Saturday, February 23, 2013

The 21st Century Innovator



As many of you who read this blog know, I work as a CFO and General Manager in a manufacturing company in the food industry.  I am a passionate advocate for small and medium-sized business manufacturing in the USA.  A common think tank conclusion these days is in order for  America to remain economically strong, we must manufacture physical products.  This blog is devoted to how this just might happen. 


One night last summer I was paging through Flipboard on my iPad, and came across an article in The Journal "Forget B-School, D-School Is Hot."  As an MBA and B-School person, I was intrigued.  Design School? 

Confession--I enjoy spending time with my wife watching reality show "Project Runway."  While no fashionista,  I have come to appreciate The New School  and the power of design, but replacing my cherished MBA? Skeptical.  







Enter Stanford University.  As I explored the website, my innovation wheels started spinning quickly.  I signed up for the free Virtual Crash Course in design thinking.  Now let me backup. 

I have an entrepreneurial passion, and am married to a true MAKER.  Many of my innovation ideas grow legs from my wife who is part DIY like her dad, and part inventor and crafter.

In 2005, we started an e-commerce store together after reading about the long tail effect.  After immersing myself in Stanford's crash course in design, and reading a new book by the author who introduced us to "The Long Tail," we began building a 21st century innovator toolbox starting with Trimble SketchUp.  To all of you "Dreamers" to borrow from Apple, I invite you to be on the lead edge of what could be America's new industrial revolution. 

One of the greatest innovation opportunities to help small businesses thrive and bring manufacturing back home today is what is being called "The Maker Movement." 


The internet and personal computer ended the mass media monopoply on advertising and journalism and opened up global e-commerce, the digital payment industry, the blogosphere, open education and so much more.  Now, we may very well be on the cusp of a desktop manufacturing revolution. 


The maker movement is one of the most exciting movements going on today.  Chris Anderson, author of "Makers: The New Industrial Revolution" defines what the maker movement is:


1. The web generation meets the real world. It is all of these community and collaboration and innovation models of the web but applied to physical things.  

2.  Access to manufacturing, access to factories and mass production, is now also increasingly easy.

3.  One of the things that characterizes the web generation is the instinct to do things in public, the instinct to share, the instinct to collaborate with people who you don't know, the instinct to apply [invention creation and production] to physical things ... that need to be produced and sold. [It] is an innovation model that traditional manufacturing typically doesn't have.

By now, I have hopefully teased you into checking out the crash course and reading about the book on Amazon.  Now, to tie this blog together.  I think B-School and D-School are getting married.  As these two powerful American forces work together, I can see the entrepreneurial DNA of America giving birth to a new American creativity, then a global movement of micro-manufacturing. 

A factory in the cloud, crowd funding, Kickstarter, Quirky, Autodesk123D, TinkerCad, Sketchup, 3D printing and scanning, massive open online education--these are great times to be alive!  Stop looking back at the Great Recession, and look ahead to the New Industrial Revolution!



Come back soon for our review on the tools in our 21st century workshop! 




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