PreRamble: The BIF9 Summit – The Business Innovation Factory (BIF) recently showcased a line-up of outstanding thinkers, writers, speakers, musicians, and odd rubber creatures in a lively two-day forum at the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, RI.
Part think-tank, part do-tank, the Business Innovation Factory “sets the stage for multi-level approaches to transformational change, designing and testing new business models through sponsored projects” in realms which include education, healthcare, entrepreneurship and civic engagement.
Led by founder/director/”chief catalyst” Saul Kaplan, the 2013 Summit presenters spanned delightfully diverse disciplines including neuroscience, urban development, war photography, homelessness, morality, jazz, coke-a-cola, education, national security, religion, robotics, foodiness, 3D fabrication, … and a hockey bag full of crushed painted foam “features.”
For a nice recap of the business-forward bits, check out Forbes’ “5 Powerful Innovation Lessons from BIF9.”
For me, the most powerful aspects of the Summit happen in the spaces between the traditional business fare.
BIF is an emersion experience. Kaplan describes it in a Tweet as “more of a community than an event.” The speakers bring you into their worlds through stories that “connect and unite” … “collisions of conversation” that spur new thinking and “jumpstart hearts and minds.” There is something in the air at the BIF Summit.
Along with the fascinating accomplishments and perspectives of each presenter, there is an underlying layer of meaning in their messages. Humanity, compassion and generosity fill the room, with Kaplan skillfully attending to the moment, identifying threads, and inviting each person to participate in the unfolding magic.
The Take-Away: BIF was inspiring. The people were remarkable. Their stories, amazing. As warned, I left BIF9 with a stunning array of input that has, now five days later, refused to settle down to even a dull roar in my heart and mind (in a good way). I’m sure that I share this infusion of energy and hope with my fellow attendees – and that we are eager to move that rare and precious form of energy forward in our own corners of the world … to go forth, and, as the Summit theme suggests — “try more stuff” — !
Photo credit: Stephanie Alvarez Ewens