Elizabeth Gilbert has nothing on me. As I make my way through the EU on this conference pilgrimage, I may not only return with some good ideas, but it appears that I may be packing on a few extra pounds.
So ends my first ISPIM: Action for Innovation – Innovating from Experience. Almost 600 delegates representing industry, government and academia from all over the world (30+ from North America) and well over 100 presentations on all that is ‘innovation’.
On day one, I participated in two roundtable discussions. The first one on frameworks in public innovation was really interesting. We had a diverse group – Norway, Finland, Tunzunia, Germany and Australia. The main takeaway? Frameworks are context-dependent and must be reflexive. (I still say that “public innovation” is a bit of an oxymoron but I think that it always worthwhile to discuss new ideas). The second roundtable I participated in was on intellectual property where we debated the usefulness of patents. For the most part, the group was quite skeptical about the patent process. It seems to me that patent counts are merely ‘notches in belts’ for some firms or organizations – and the value (often) stops there. Henry Chesbrough (of ‘open innovation’ fame) provided some insights at the open plenary session earlier in the day. He presented the “patent utilization ratio”:
This is not a bad way to look at things although I think that I would need to have further clarification on what “under practical use” means. Chesbrough also suggests that as little as 10 – 30% of patents are utilized in practice. If that is true, I think that skepticism around patents is well-founded. It would seem that being ‘patent-centric’ may not be what it is cracked up to be. Rather, IP portfolios require a balance of different protection mechanisms (i.e. trademarks, wordmarks, etc) plus some solid ingenuity around business practice and models.
The rest of the conference was a whirlwind of presentations, social events and networking. We had dinner on the rooftop of the Museu d’Història de Catalunya overlooking the Barcelona Harbour which was lovely. Then on Tuesday evening, we went to the Carpe Diem Lounge Club on the beach. My presentation was in the last session of the last day. There is a small group of us that are social network analysis enthusiasts and applying the tool in a variety of ways. It will be interesting to see how this subset of ISPIM-ers evolves in terms of this type of work.
I closed that final day by skipping out of the plenary session and heading to Sagrada Familia. This was definitely a highlight of my trip! More photos here.
Gracias, Barcelona! Tuve un gran tiempo! Look out Italy, here I come!
Quote of the day: “There are no ‘last words’ in innovation…” (Henry Chesbrough)