This post was written by Margaret Arzon, SEMBA ’17
In SEMBA, we are encouraged to connect and learn from other social entrepreneurs that are currently driving business to create a social and environmental good. As part of an assignment for our Entrepreneurial Leadership and Mindset class with Dita Sharma, my classmate Julie Allwarden and I sat down with the owner of Pingala restaurant, Trevor Sullivan, to talk about what inspired his business.
What can we do when we need to be creative, but it’s not there? We’ve all had it, be it writer’s block, artist’s block, entrepreneurial block, etc., the dreaded block is a creative type’s worst nightmare. What if we had a way to break through this block that was fun, easy, and took less than 10 minutes to complete? It may sound crazy, but I shared a tool with my SEMBA classmates this March that touched on all these requirements. I call it On Demand Creativity.
The alternative uses task, as it is more commonly named, was created by J.P. Guilford in 1954. At its very core, the task looks at an everyday object and aims to discover alternate uses for that object. For example, a paperclip’s primary use is to bind papers together. A paperclip may alternately become a ring, necklace, or earring. Within eight minutes, alone or in a group, one can look for as many of these uses for a paperclip, or other object, as possible. The aim is number of ideas generated. As a byproduct of looking for the highest number of alternatives, creativity starts to flow. Questions are asked: how many paperclips am I allowed? Can I manipulate them? How much time am I allowed to make the new object? Is it just me or can many people work on this? Over time, assumptions are either created or shattered, and in this brief timeframe, our minds open up to new possibilities and our proverbial creative juices get flowing.
“Connectivity is productivity,” a mantra which has guided entrepreneur Iqbal Quadir to put cell phones in the hands of over 100 million Bangladeshi people. A country once thought to be synonymous with poverty is now seeing unprecedented economic growth due, in part, to the success of Iqbal Quadir and his venture, Grameen Phone, a micro-loan based company which allows those at the base of the pyramid access to modern communication. Iqbal, who is a SEMBA advisory board member, visited the SEMBA class as part of the Entrepreneur in Residence series. He proved to be a model of the disruptive and visionary values that SEMBA represents. He demonstrated that capital is not the source of innovation and development; rather, development is the source for capital.
Germany is embarking on an innovative project to turn a coal mine into a giant battery that can store surplus solar and wind energy and release it when supplies are lean.
The Prosper-Haniel coal mine in the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia will be converted into a 200 megawatt pumped-storage hydroelectric reservoir that acts like a giant battery. The capacity is enough to power more than 400,000 homes, according to Governor Hannelore Kraft.
Across the world, myriad efforts are underway to make energy systems cleaner, smarter, and more efficient. But it’s hard to get a sense of the total size of those efforts, as they are spread across so many different industries and regions. Navigant Research reports on the growth and size of both the national and global advanced energy industries from 2011 through 2016, and there are some very interesting findings:
Here’s an article by our very ownProfessor Stuart L. Hart in which he writes about the Jungian concept of enantiodromia and tells us what business must do going forward.
Hart stresses that the majority of corporate growth (and later, profits) comes from new strategic initiatives rather than from the continuing development and improvement of existing businesses.
We must refocus our attention on new, transformational strategic moves (or initiatives).Rather than chasing the fantasy of rating entire corporations as to their “sustainability,” let us instead shift the “unit of analysis” and spend more time understanding (and driving) the Green Leap – new strategic initiatives within corporations focused on leapfrog, clean technology and disruptive new business models that serve and lift the poor.
Only 2 percent of the 78 million tons of plastic used each year for packaging is actually recycled. The remaining 98 percent finds its way into landfills, incineration plants and the environment. New innovations and initiatives from across the U.S. and Canada, however, are offering new solutions to tackle the ever-growing plastics problem.
Part of the problem lies within product composition: Currently, polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) — which comprise the majority of the world’s plastics — cannot be repurposed together. But Geoffrey Coates, professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Tisch University, and a team of researchers from the University of Minnesota may have found a solution.
When Google decided to shift to 100% renewable energy, it worked directly with wind and solar farms to sign deals. A new U.K.-based startup called Squeaky lets small businesses easily do the same thing at a smaller scale—business owners can choose a wind farm to support, and then start buying renewable electricity at the same price they were paying for energy from fossil fuels.
The rapid growth of independent renewable generators, driven by the falling cost of wind and solar, makes a platform like Squeaky possible.
North Face and Patagonia are both wrestling with a consequential paradox, one that is central to contemporary consumerism: we want to feel morally good about the things we buy. And both companies have been phenomenally successful because they have crafted an image that is about more than just being ethical and environmentally friendly, but about nature, adventure, exploration – ideas more grandiose than simply selling you a jacket, taking your money and trying not to harm the earth too much along the way. But the paradox is that by presenting themselves this way, they are selling a lot more jackets. In other words, both companies are selling stuff in part by looking like they’re not trying too hard to sell stuff, which helps them sell more stuff – and fills the world with more and more stuff.