eParachute - Chart a path to work you love

eParachute - What Color is Your Parachute? - eParachute.com

The Hoop Fund - Fund Greater Goods

The Hoop Fund www.hoopfund.com

Why Not? A Guide for Ingenuity

The other day, my foster brother Seth and I were speaking about being innovative. Seth is a lead test engineer on a certain eXcellent gaming console in Redmond, WA.

"I don't think I have it in me," Seth commented, "I can almost always figure out how things work, like noise canceling headsets for example, but I don't know how people come up with those ideas in the first place."

"Maybe that's true," I responded, "but I bet that you could be trained."

I like to tell people that creating something innovative and new is like pulling on threads until it leads you to a sweater, or even better yet, it's like gathering threads into your hands until you finally realize that you're already holding a sweater. In non-knitting terms, innovation is an organic process, involving questions and observations, and a lot of looking at the world differently. And one of my favorite guides for looking at the world differently is Barry Nalebuff's and Ian Ayres' "Why Not? How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big and Small"

In twenty years and countless adventures in growing our business, our only progress and for that matter our only interesting breakthroughs have resulted from someone asking Why not? Nalebuff and Ayres have crafted an inspiring, imaginative, informative and best of all, fun treatise that will arouse the entrepreneur in all of us. You will fly through this book, and you will never look at a problem the same way again.

—Gary Hirshberg, President and CEO,Stonyfield Farm Yogurt, Inc.

Discordant Notes - More Disruption for the Music Industry

Demonstrating Apple's GarageBand

Headlines about the assault on the traditional music industry are a common sight, but most often these articles concern the disruption of traditional distribution and sales mechanisms by peer to peer networks and digital media. Yesterday though, the New York Times ran an article describing the latest discordant notes for the music industry, "Home Sweet Studio", detailing the rise of the home recording studio and digital tools for content creation.

"Mr. Pierce is part of a quiet revolution in music-making: the move from professional studios to home recording. Making an album used to mean booking a fixed amount of very expensive time in a well-equipped but unfamiliar room; now, it can be a matter of rolling out of bed and pressing a button. Whether it's Mice Parade's indie-rock, Aesop Rock's underground hip-hop, the twilit ballads of Keren Ann, the mercurial California rock of the Eels or sweeping Top 40 contenders from Moby, more and more music is emerging not from acoustically perfect state-of-the-art studios, but from setups tucked into bedrooms and basements or simply programmed onto a laptop."

Disrupting the mainstream

Traditional companies in the multi-billion dollar recording industry can be described as providing three major services: distribution & sales, marketing, and recording. The rise of home studios and garage bands foretells the disruption of the third area, recording, but could also have impacts on the first two areas.

Looking for Exponential Value - Lessons in Leadership

It should be obvious that there really is a limit to how much one person can do or to how much one person can earn; we should be looking for ways to create exponential value. Remind budding leaders about that every time they think about going it alone. For a developing leader, every "individual" success can be viewed as just reinforcing a bad habit; it blinds you from seeing how much greater your success could have been if you had looked beyond yourself.

Lighting Up the Crossroads - Stuart L. Hart

"Stuart Hart was there at the beginning. Years ago when the term 'sustainability' had not yet reached business schools, Stuart Hart stood as a beacon in the umbrage. It is clear commerce is the engine of change, design the first signal of intention, and global capitalism is at the crossroads. Stuart Hart is there again; this time lighting up the intersection."

- William McDonough, Co-author of Cradle to Cradle

Three years ago, a group of MBA prospects visited the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School. We were wined & dined and offered full rides and stipends, incentives to reject offers at higher ranked business schools and earn our MBAs at Kenan-Flagler instead. The admission staff knew they had to be convincing, so they brought out the big guns. We were introduced to Stu Hart.

Naturally, we decided Carolina was a fine place to be.

You Need More than Magic - KXI's "World Filter"

“No single measure would do more to reduce disease and save lives in the developing world than bringing safe water and adequate sanitation to all.”

- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Millennium Report

How do we meet the clean water needs of the world's billions?

Connecticut based KX Industries may have the answer.

Perhaps you never heard of KX Industries (KXI), but you probably tasted the fruits of its work, they created the technology behind the PUR and BRITA "end of tap" filters: those water purifying pitchers we all know and love. Directed by CEO Dr. Evan Koslow and investor Kevin McGovern, KXI has recently developed an exciting new water filter technology, the "World Filter".

BRINQ on the road . . .

The past couple of weeks have been intense travel weeks, with meetings at the Base of the Pyramid Learning Lab, hosted by Cornell University, and the 2005 Advisory Board meeting for the Center for Sustainable Enterprise at the University of North Carolina. Included below are some meeting highlights.

"Poti Baba" - the Magic Man, India's Arvind Gupta

Arvind Gupta

Arvind Gupta, the winner of India's first National Award for Science Popularisation, has taught hands on science and toy-making workshops to thousands of children throughout India. His trash-to-treasure lessons have been written up in numerous books, freely available for download.

"Twenty-five years ago, I discovered that if children see a scientific principle incorporated into a toy, they understand it better." - Arvind Gupta

At BRINQ, we've long been fans of magic man and toy tinker Arvind Gupta and his Little Toys, so we think it's high time we do our part in sharing his work with the world!

Unleashing Competitive Imagination- the Base of the Pyramid Protocol

The BoP Protocol

How can the multinational company become the driver of an inclusive capitalism?

That's the critical question the Base of the Pyramid Protocol seeks to answer. Developed by Stuart Hart and the Base of the Pyramid Learning Lab, the BOP Protocol Project is a collaborative effort to develop guidelines and business models for successful Base of the Pyramid ventures, enabling them to meet the needs of the world's 4 billion poorest people while discovering huge new growth and innovation opportunities.

The Vision: to create inclusive, mutually beneficial business processes through which the private sector and local communities build economic, social and environmental value.

Bambucicletas and Other "Cycles" of Innovation

Have people found ways to make bicycles more accesible and useful to solving the world's transportation problems for the poor? Here are few interesting examples we came across:A toy designer and BRINQ advisor talked to us yesterday about his recent trip to volunteer in Nicaragua. He shared a number of observations on children there:

"Kids seemed more interested in clothing than toys, we met a lot of people who were much better dressed than we were but who also happened to sleep on dirt floors. Kids wanted better shoes for playing sports and most never had a pair of tennis shoes in their life. But what every child really seemed to want was a bicycle! However, most couldn't afford them."

If you have spent much time in developing countries, chances are you have seen A LOT of bicycles. I have very vivid memories of crossing through a river of bicycle traffic in Saigon (the trick is to walk slow and steady so they can dodge you) and seeing whole families on a single bike in central Viet Nam. Bicycles are the workhorses of many societies, and it's no wonder that children want the freedom and mobility bikes represent.

So this got us started on the subject of innovation for bicycles in the Base of the Pyramid. Have people found ways to make bicycles more accesible and useful for the world's poor? Here are few examples we came across (and don't forget our previous find of a bicycle that rides on water).

The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid - CK Prahalad

Recently we've received a number of requests for more information on the Base of the Pyramid. One of the best places to start is with the work by C.K. Prahalad and Stuart Hart. Prahalad and Hart were both featured prominently at December's WRI "Eradicating Poverty through Profit" conference in San Francisco, which we along with 900 other representatives of businesses, NGOs, universities, and governments attended.

Below is an excerpt from an interview with Prahalad about his new book "The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid":

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