"" Tim Coates: The Powers to Combine

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Powers to Combine

Who would have thought that one of the best ways to start a company was at a conference?

Startup Weekend has proven its worth. With 381 completed events that have launched 4,272 enterprises, this young organization now receives millions in funding from Google, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Kauffman Foundation, and support from Startup America. Startup Weekend’s themes are also venturing further away from its comfort zone of starting mobile app companies, and into education and other sectors.

Startup Weekend is just one example. Other novel ways to combine people and ideas include DemoCamp, ChangeCamp, open-space techniques, Village Capital, Accelerators, and Seedhack. Underlying their success and popularity is new thinking in how diverse individuals combine to learn and create things (from companies to better public services and personal development). Many organizations are integrating these insights into programming with positive results. For example, last week’s Economist had an article on Harvard Business School's new experiential leadership curriculum, FIELD.

We’re in a fascinating period where the ways individuals combine has undergone a revolution from 1.0 (broadcasting) to 2.0 (engagement), just like the web. These new experiences are part conference, part classroom and part action leaning, wrapped together with facilitation, technology and purpose.

The forefront of these efforts is where people gather in spaces specifically designed and carefully curated to support innovation. Spaces like the Center for Social Innovation in Toronto, The Hub (especially in San Francisco) and the Box Office in Providence are leading the way.

It's interesting that while there remains excitement for online only communities, these events gain ascendance. It's recognition that learning is social. And when some of best ideas are at the intersection of fields, ideas and sectors, face to face is still needed to push limits and create magic.

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