Issue 5

HOW CAN WE INNOVATE USING THE INTERNET?

By Alex Stobart, Mydex CIC

When you were young, did you enjoy playing on your own, or taking part in team games?

Most innovative-thinking people probably possess a good dose of ambition and determination. Innovative systems, organisations and people will also engage in co-design and co-production whenever possible, as they recognise that the customer is almost always right. For innovation to flow, and be encouraged, it also relies on an individual and collective willingness to question, to be open and to embrace diversity.

We all know examples of innovative people, groups and organisations, or do we?

Karl Albrecht, founder of Aldi, is credited with stating Albrecht's Law –

“Intelligent people, when assembled into an organization, will tend toward collective stupidity.”

We are promised that innovation will flow from big data, open data and yet what we really want may be more personal data and trust in those who handle our personal information and data.

Individuals can learn on their own, and as a team, and as a collective. Does the so-called “shrinking” of the world as a result of the web, and globalisation, mean we should do better to revert to self-learning or participating in mass on-line courses (MOOCs)? We are promised that innovation will flow from big data, open data and yet what we really want may be more personal data and trust in those who handle our personal information and data.

A story broke recently in 'The Guardian’ about defence industry supplier Raytheon RIOT (Rapid Information Overlay Technology).  This suggests the internet is a dangerous place – anything we do can be intercepted by government or other organisations, without us knowing.

One commentator on the Guardian article says:-

"I have about as much faith in the State and the police using my data in a benign fashion as I do in my boss giving me an unexpected pay rise."

People may inevitably therefore become more wary; already, youngsters are becoming more careful about what they post and share on-line. Many delete their social media histories as they first go for a job interview. People also recognise that multi nationals are more innovative than governments, and are likely to be one step ahead. People learn from others, and will react to the privacy battlefield events as they are reported.

digital public services on the web under-pinned by identity, are generating transfers of power and issues. Soon, internet capable patients will expect to access their health records, care home residents may tweet conditions in their building, and so forth

Privacy-friendly internet platforms are emerging in an attempt to reverse these trends. Mydex CIC in the UK, QiY in the Netherlands, Personal, Singly, Reputation in the US are a few of the early, emerging names. These may be examples of trust frameworks that seek to offer systemic, creative, liberating networks and eco-systems on the web.

Such organisations aim to empower the individual by providing ways for them to secure their personal information, and to share only those aspects of their lives that they wish to make available to others. In similar vein, Log-ons and passwords may be replaced over time by ‘federated identity’. Over time, greater  trust may build up between participants in the eco-system, and this may result in more collaboration and innovation.

Aggregates of people, collectives, co-operatives, social enterprises can all be innovators that may enable people to make a difference. They are built on trust, mututality, respect, common outcomes and they may have an advantage in a more democratic web.

Examples abound - Avaaz in lobbying, digital public services on the web under-pinned by identity, are generating transfers of power and issues. Soon, internet capable patients will expect to access their health records, care home residents may tweet conditions in their building, and so forth.

Why did no-one report the incidents in mid Staffs hospitals? The NHS as a whole system is clearly not a leading example of systemic innovation, and yet it can learn how to combat MRSA, and how to improve surgical procedures.

Local government organisations started building a Knowledge Hub in c. 2005. This was open, participative and quickly grew to have 100,000 members and many different groups sharing innovations with the Third Sector, business and individuals also allowed in. Then in 2011 it went through an upgrade, and it seems to have less activity now. The innovation appears to have been stalled for some reason, and this illustrates the dynamic nature of such changes.

Why did no-one report the incidents in mid Staffs hospitals? The NHS as a whole system is clearly not a leading example of systemic innovation, and yet it can learn how to combat MRSA, and how to improve surgical procedures. Commentators suggest it suffers from suppressive regulation and is still heavily influenced by imposed target-setting. New models ought to embrace measurement by kindness and compassion as well as just hard data.

The NHS has Patient Opinion that provides internet based feedback, that appears to be used – or ‘listened to‘ by staff and others in the system.

Systemic and disruptive innovation based on empowering individuals and collectives is possible; it’s happening, it’s practical and the unstoppable trend will over-run corporate immune systems.

By Alex Stobart, Mydex CIC

Issue 5

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