Monday, May 3, 2010

FEI2010 Kick-off Keynote – “More Meadows” by Robin Chase, Founding CEO of Zipcar and GoLoco

C. Engdahl reporting from FEI2010

“More Meadows” by Robin Chase, Founding CEO of Zipcar and GoLoco

In a style that I can only think to describe as “controlled stream of consciousness” (a phrase I just made up and mean only in the best possible way), innovator and entrepreneur Robin Chase delivered her compelling FEI2010 Kick-off Keynote “More Meadows” with energy, humor, and passion. I can only wish she had more time to speak.

Beginning with the somewhat rhetorical, tongue and cheek question “What is the Key to Our Future?”, Ms. Chase after demonstrating she had already consulted Solvalou.com, came to the conclusion that “Innovation” is indeed the key to our future. The more important, less obvious question, the answer for which she spent systematically revealing to the audience throughout her presentation was “How do we get lots of innovation?” Essentially you need five things:

1. Problems
2. Time
3. New Thinking
4. Low cost of inputs
5. Experimentation

Using varied examples such as Chatroulette.com, the concept of “bed-sharing” (which ultimately became what we now refer to as hotels), couchsurfing.com, and what could only be considered the most brainless iPhone app available - “Hold the Button” - Robin demonstrated that three simple principles of our 2.0 world can be used to create profitable, innovative products and companies. All the while creating a more sustainable future by using a lot less stuff.

1. Identify Existing Capacity,
2. Create a platform that utilizes this capacity, and
3. Have end-users provide their own content. Have them bring their own stuff.

Interesting and compelling.

But what is the real key to our future? How do we get lots of innovation? The answer is quite simple really.

Create more open systems (rather than closed systems), the metaphor for which is “More Meadows.” Meadows are diverse eco-systems that could be literally, but at least figuratively “open”, adaptable, and allow for experimentation and new thinking. If we don’t create “meadows” Robin suggests “we’re screwed.” Whatever industry you’re in, don’t protect the status quo. Create a meadow.

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