Tag Archives: TED

LAUNCH: We know WHY. Do you?

Last week, we held our West Coast LAUNCHpad Salon with the LAUNCH team to talk lessons learned from two successful events, LAUNCH:Water and LAUNCH:Health; and start planning LAUNCH:Energy. The Cazneau Group, one of our implementation partners, hosted the Salon at their offices in Sausalito, California. Great conversation, great setting, great food. But best of all, great common goal — to bring about positive change to our home planet, one innovation at a time.

LAUNCH: Accelerating Innovation for a Sustainable Future.

NASA, USAID, Department of State, and NIKE joined together to form LAUNCH in an effort to identify, showcase and support innovative approaches to sustainability challenges. We’d been working on the LAUNCH concept for six months or so before having a program mature enough to bring in partners in December of 2009. In 2010, we successfully hosted two forums at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Now we look ahead to”what next” — as in LAUNCH:Energy.

Lord of the Rings: One RingDuring our two days together, the LAUNCH team sifted through what makes our LAUNCH brand unique. We’re still working through the process, but what really resonated with me was the concept of LAUNCH as a Fellowship of Innovators. We joked about the ONE RING to RULE them ALL….and who got to wear it, but in essence, that’s what LAUNCH is. We’re an ever-expanding fellowship of cutting-edge thinkers — though not at all in a Sauron kind of way, for all you Lord of the Rings fans.

Each of the LAUNCH team founders is an innovator in his/her field of expertise. We came together to create an innovative program called LAUNCH, which selects ten innovators to interact with 30+ LAUNCH Councilmembers, who are thought leaders in their fields. Together, we’ve become a Fellowship to help propel promising innovations forward to make a difference addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Pretty cool, huh?

After returning to the office, a colleague shared with me a TED presentation by Simon Sinek: “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.”

Simon says (wink) that others “don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.” He talks about why the Wright Brothers were successful. They were driven by a cause, they wanted to “change the course of the world.” And they did! Just like we want to accomplish with LAUNCH — to accelerate innovation for a sustainable future…and change the course of the world.

Wright Brothers Glider

Wright Brothers Glider

In his TED presentation, Simon Sinek also talks about the Law of Diffusion of Innovations, where 2.5% are Innovators, 13.5% are Early Adopters, and 34% are in the Early Majority. He claims that Innovators and Early Adaptors are comfortable making gut decisions driven by what they believe about the world vs. what product is available for their use. The Early Majority won’t try something until someone else tries it first.

Law of Diffusion of Innovation

Law of Diffusion of Innovation

With LAUNCH, we’re in the business of accelerating innovation. We operate right in the middle of the 2.5% zone on the curve. We look for innovations (and their innovators) to nurture, refine, and then showcase to Early Adopters (the LAUNCH Council). We started inside Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle and built out. We know WHY we created LAUNCH. Then we figured out HOW to implement the concept, and WHAT the product is.

Simon Sinek: Why

Simon Sinek: Golden Circle

Once you strip away the Innovator selection and presentation prep, the Council selection and event logistics, the Accelerator follow-up post forum, what’s left is the LAUNCH Fellowship of Innovators. We’re creating space at the far left of the Diffusion of Innovation curve where we can live and play. It’s the place where we believe we can make biggest impact on the future of this world. That’s WHY!

Todd: LAUNCH wants YOU!

Todd says, "Innovators, We want YOU!"

Here are a few pics of West Coast LAUNCHpad Salon that I snapped with my iphone. Enjoy! (We certainly did.)


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Crosspost on GovLoop and OpenNASA.


Filed under federal government, humanitarian aid, LAUNCH, leadership, NASA, technology

LAUNCH: Innovation Matchmaking

Vestergaard Frandsen Lifestraw

Vestergaard Frandsen LifeStraw

On Friday, the New York Times Opinionator blog featured a story about “Green Strategies for the Poorest.” The author, Tina Rosenberg, talks about the carbon credit model used by Vestergaard Frandsen for the LifeStraw products, and how they got the idea from Manna Energy. In the carbon credit market, entities that reduce carbon emissions can receive credits that can be sold as offsets to offending (think polluting) entities.

“Use of carbon markets could be a breakthrough.” Tina Rosenberg

What the Opinionator story failed to point out is HOW Vestergaard Frandsen and Manna Energy connected in the first place — LAUNCH: Water!

Our LAUNCH:Water sustainability forum in March brought together these two great forces for good: Vestergaard Frandsen and Manna Energy. Mikkel Vestergaard served as a LAUNCH Council member and Ron Garan’s Manna Energy was selected as one of the ten LAUNCH innovations. Mikkel liked Manna’s business model and signed them to a contract shortly after the LAUNCH:Water forum.

Ron Garan LAUNCH:Water

I feel like a proud parent. I hope this is one of many success stories that will start bubbling out of the innovation soup pot — LAUNCH.

So what are LAUNCH sustainability forums? What makes them unique?

We think the magic is the process itself.  We created LAUNCH as TED with teeth an innovation mashup.

First, we identify ten innovative, disruptive ideas that show great promise to make tangible progress toward solving sustainability challenges our society faces here on Earth.

The sustainability issues we face on our home planet mirror what we face when we leave the protection of our Earth’s atmosphere. The hostile environment of space forces us to be creative in how we support human life on short and long-duration missions. On Earth, we may take it for granted that our resources will be available when we need them. But can we make that assumption?

We hosted the inaugural LAUNCH:Water in March, and just recently hosted LAUNCH:Health in October. We give each Innovator the opportunity to present a 15 minute overview of their innovation to a diverse group of thought leaders.

LAUNCH Process:

Our LAUNCH team works closely with each innovator prior to the Forum to ensure the presentation tells a compelling story.

LAUNCH team prepping Innovator Dieterich Lawson
LAUNCH team prepping Innovator Dieterich Lawson

We provide each innovator with a slick video to help sell their stories. NIKE brings in a team to film each Innovator’s story, which becomes part of the Innovator’s portfolio, along with the Forum presentation.

NIKE LAUNCH:Health film studio
NIKE LAUNCH:Health film studio

The presentation to LAUNCH Council is U-streamed live so the general public can participate virtually. The U-stream videos are archived on LAUNCH.org.

Innovator David Van Sickle, Asthmapolis
Innovator David Van Sickle, Asthmapolis

Following the presentations, we facilitate small group impact rotations where LAUNCH Council focus on each innovator one-on-one (or ten-on-one, to be more precise).

Impact Rotations where LAUNCH Council delve into Innovations
Impact Rotations where LAUNCH Council delve into Innovations

Streamlined, solution-driven impact rotations are the heart of the problem-solving conversations at LAUNCH.

With five 30-minute impact rotations for each Innovator, our LAUNCH Council give insightful comments and recommendations about where they see each Innovation fitting in the market, and how to best proceed on the path toward success.

LAUNCH:Health Innovator Aydogan Ozcan told me LAUNCH was worth more than a year of technical conferences rolled up in one weekend. He couldn’t believe the thought leaders around the table were willing to focus total attention on him for two+ hours, when he normally had to wait next to an elevator just for the chance to speak to them for a stolen minute at a typical conference.

We’ll keep working hard to improve the process. I look forward to more stories in the news about the difference our innovators are making in the lives of others as the years go by. Through the LAUNCH sustainability forums, I get to be an Innovation Matchmaker. Not a bad title for my business card. Hmmm. Time to reorder….

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