Harnessing Ecosystem Innovation for Impact: Insights from 'Do Bigger Things'

Discover How Ecosystem Innovation Can Transform Complex Challenges Into Opportunities for Meaningful Change, As Shared by Experts Jennifer Wilde and Dan Mcclure

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Devin: Dan, what is your superpower?

Dan: What's really hit me throughout my life is the wide range of things I can't do. So, I'm not very good at detail things. I'm not very good at structured or organized project management. But I am really good at seeing the big picture.

Devin: Jennifer, what is your superpower?

Jennifer: I was talking to someone the other day, and they introduced me as a force of nature, which actually made me think, is that a good thing or a bad thing? The driving motivation of my life has been inequality. I hate things that aren't fair. So, I think my superpower is harnessing that saying, “I can run through walls.” I can make big things happen where I am deeply motivated. For me, that's around inequality.

In today’s episode, I had the privilege of speaking with Jennifer Wilde, Founder of Lighten, and Dan McClure, Innovation Choreographer of Innovation Ecosystem, about their groundbreaking approach to solving complex problems through ecosystem innovation. Their insights, drawn from their book Do Bigger Things, shed light on a transformative method that goes beyond conventional solutions, tapping into the collective power of interconnected systems for impactful change.

Jennifer’s journey began in the heart of crisis zones, where she swiftly learned the importance of addressing complex challenges not with simple fixes but through a comprehensive understanding of the interconnected nature of problems. "You can have all the money in the world and still struggle to solve complex problems, which often spider into numerous interconnected issues," she shared. This realization led her and Dan to explore how ecosystems could be reimagined and restructured to facilitate solutions that are not only effective but sustainable and scalable.

Dan, bringing his unique perspective from a career that thrived in chaos and transformation, emphasized the broader application of ecosystem innovation. "It's tempting to see innovation as the next app or technology. But real-world challenges require the orchestration of people, organizations, governments, and technology," he noted. This approach shifts the focus from isolated inventions to the synergy of multiple components working together, a concept that is central to their book and their work.

One of the most compelling examples Jennifer shared was from her experience in a refugee camp in Iraq. A simple yet profound desire from a mother wanting her daughters to attend university highlighted the vast gap between potential solutions and the intricate web of barriers that prevent their realization. "It's not just about technology. It's about understanding the multifaceted needs and crafting a supportive ecosystem that addresses them holistically," she reflected.

As we prepare for SuperCrowd24 on April 17 - 18, we’re excited to note that Jennifer and Dan will conduct a workshop on ecosystem development for impact crowdfunders. Their insights remind us of the power of collective action. Through their work, they demonstrate that by rethinking how we approach problem-solving, we can unlock unparalleled potential for change. For those eager to join the movement towards innovative solutions for complex challenges, remember to register with the code SuperCrowd to save 50 percent. This is not just an opportunity to learn but to be part of a transformative journey towards doing bigger things together.

AI Episode Summary

1. Devin Thorpe introduces his guests, Jennifer Wild and Dan McClure, authors of Do Bigger Things, on his show "Superpowers for Good."

2. Jennifer explains that the book they co-authored focuses on solving complex problems by helping those who tackle significant issues such as homelessness, gender-based violence, and climate change by providing innovative tools and practices.

3. Dan highlights the importance of innovating ecosystems instead of individual elements by considering the interconnectedness of people, organizations, governments, and technology when addressing complex issues.

4. Jennifer shares her background in humanitarian emergencies, discussing her experiences with scaling up services in crisis situations and determining what specific help can make an impactful difference in people's lives.

5. Dan shares his personal journey from being an engineer to finding his niche in reimagining and innovating in deregulated environments, enjoying the challenge of creating change where constraints have been removed.

6. Jennifer gives an example from the book where she worked on connecting Syrian refugees with opportunities for higher education, illustrating the complex ecosystem needed to transform lives even with existing resources.

7. Dan provides his own example of ecosystem thinking applied on a different scale, showing how even a local bakery owner can utilize the concept to innovate and improve their business.

8. When asked about their superpowers, Dan identifies his ability to view the big picture and see how systems fit together, while Jennifer states hers is her drive to address inequality and run through metaphorical walls.

9. Jennifer highlights her current project, an AI assistant for busy parents, explaining her motivation to create tools that address inequalities in parenting burdens and how focusing on what she deeply cares about helps guide her through the chaos of tech innovation.

10. Jennifer and Dan conclude by inviting viewers to engage with them through various platforms such as LinkedIn, Innovation Ecosystem, and Jennifer's website and express their eagerness to support others in doing bigger things.

How to Develop Confronting Inequality As a Superpower

Jennifer’s profound ability to confront inequality is nothing short of inspiring. Her superpower, succinctly put, is "Confronting Inequality." This potent force drives her to challenge and address disparities wherever they exist, propelling her to initiate significant change.

Jennifer's journey is a testament to leveraging this superpower, particularly through her humanitarian work. An illustrative story she shared involves her endeavor to build an AI assistant for busy parents. She highlighted the disproportionate burden often shouldered by women in managing household and childcare duties, leading to stress and health issues. This scenario was a clarion call for Jennifer, igniting her resolve to devise solutions that alleviate such inequalities and promote a more balanced and equitable distribution of responsibilities.

Developing a superpower like Jennifer's involves a few critical steps. First, identify an issue that deeply resonates with you, something that stirs a profound sense of injustice within you. Next, allow this drive to guide your actions and decisions, pushing you to initiate changes that address these disparities. Additionally, embrace the complexity of the problems you're tackling, recognizing that they often comprise multiple interconnected challenges requiring equally multifaceted solutions. Lastly, remain focused on your purpose and the value you aim to create, letting this clarity navigate you through the inevitable chaos and challenges that arise in your quest for change.

By following Jennifer's example and advice, you can make confronting inequality a skill. With practice and effort, you could make it a superpower that enables you to do more good in the world. Her story is a powerful reminder that with the right motivation and approach, we can all contribute to creating a more equitable and just society.

Remember, however, that research into success suggests that building on your own superpowers is more important than creating new ones or overcoming weaknesses. You do you!

How to Develop Seeing the Big Picture As a Superpower

Dan is a visionary whose innate ability to "See the Big Picture" has profoundly impacted the landscape of innovation. Dan's superpower lies in his unique perspective, allowing him to discern intricate systems and connections where others might see chaos or unrelated elements.

Dan shared a compelling story from his career that exemplifies his superpower in action. He recounted working with a global automaker faced with the daunting challenge of digital disruption. This situation demanded a complete organizational overhaul, breaking down silos and reimagining how various departments could synergize for innovation. His ability to envision this vast, interconnected network and guide the company through this transformative process highlights just how potent seeing the big picture can be in navigating and leading change in complex environments.

For those aspiring to develop this superpower, Dan offered a piece of succinct yet powerful advice: "Step back and embrace the complexity." This encourages us to not shy away from the multifaceted nature of problems but to dive in, understand the various components at play, and find the connections that others might miss. It's about taking the time to observe and analyze the broader landscape, which in turn, empowers you to identify innovative solutions and strategies that can lead to meaningful change.

By following Dan's example and advice, you can make seeing the big picture a skill. With practice and effort, you could make it a superpower that enables you to do more good in the world. Dan’s approach teaches us the importance of looking beyond the immediate and obvious, urging us to consider the broader implications and opportunities that lie within the complexities of our world.

Remember, however, that research into success suggests that building on your own superpowers is more important than creating new ones or overcoming weaknesses. You do you!

Guest Profile

Jennifer Wilde (she/her):

Founder, Lighten

About Lighten: An AI Parental assistant to lighten your load

Website: trylighten.com

X/Twitter Handle: @Inno_ecosystem

Biographical Information: History of successful scale and management of volatile operations around the world

  • Emergency management: Managing operations of up to 80M USD or 800 people.

  • Founder innovation labs: scaling from 0-10M USD and into 6 countries in 3 years

  • Built a small global innovation consultancy shaping innovation practice in volatile markets

  • Innovation funding advisory to European and global humanitarian innovation funds

Author of bestselling book - Do Bigger Things

X/Twitter Handle: @jenniferwiide

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/jennifer-wilde-innovation/

Dan McClure  (he/him):

Innovation Choreographer, Innovation Ecosystem

About Innovation Ecosystem: Innovation Ecosystem is about using powerful new innovation practices to take on big urgent challenges.   Today's most important opportunities (and threats) require innovators that embrace complexity and weave together people, organizations, and technology to make the world work in new ways.  We show how that is done with cutting edge practices in ecosystem innovation, new roles as big picture innovation choreographers, and flexible enterprises that are able to dance through a changing world.   We make doing bigger things possible.   

Website: www.innovationecosystem.com

X/Twitter Handle: @Inno_ecosystem

Biographical Information: Dan is an innovation choreographer, a big picture innovator whose job is to run into burning buildings looking for exceptional opportunities.  As a founding partner of Innovation Ecosystem, he is a recognized thought leader in the emerging practice of ecosystem innovation and the author of "Do Bigger Things."  Throughout his 40-year career, he has worked with global firms facing threats of obsolescence, pioneering businesses in fast-changing markets, and international organizations tackling tough challenges like climate change and pandemic response.  

X/Twitter Handle: @mccluredc

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/innovation-ecosystem

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Superpowers for Good
Superpowers for Good: Empowering Changemakers for Social Impact via Regulated Investment Crowdfunding from the SuperCrowd.
We host changemakers who are using regulated investment crowdfunding for social impact--impact crowdfunding--as impact investors or social entrepreneurs, catalyzing change with leadership skills we call superpowers.