Archive for August 2011
” A new map of food security risk around the world is, in some ways, depressingly familiar. Sub-saharan Africa leaps out as the place where the most people fear for their next meal, while the rich world has more to fear from obesity. But there’s plenty of salutary reminders and fascinating detail, like India’s food problems and the vulnerability of Spain.
And it demonstrates the sickening, symbiotic relationship between lack of food and conflict: where one leads, the other follows.”
via Food is the ultimate security need, new map shows | Damian Carrington | Environment | guardian.co.uk.
“If you’d told me 10 years ago, when I moved to Tokyo, that today I’d be writing about an eighth leader, I never would’ve believed it. Yet here we are, analyzing and philosophizing about whether Yoshihiko Noda will last longer than the last five.
In April 2001, Junichiro Koizumi grabbed the job from the hapless Yoshiro Mori. Koizumi stuck around for an unthinkably long five years. He talked big about economic reforms, promised even bigger and managed to get a few things done. Then Koizumi turned the keys over to the forgettable Shinzo Abe, who then passed them to Yasuo Fukuda and Taro Aso.
Political lightning struck in August 2009. Voters tossed out the Liberal Democratic Party that had been in power for roughly 54 years. The Democratic Party of Japan might have fared better if it picked someone other than political lightweight Yukio Hatoyama as prime minister. Next came Naoto Kan, who last week resigned to make room for yet another leader.
Analysts and pundits are busy criticizing politicians in Tokyo for going with the safe choice — Noda — when Japan is navigating a world economy that is anything but. Yet let’s put blame where it belongs: Japan’s 127 million people.
There’s some truth in the old saw that people generally get the leaders they deserve. In Japan’s case, voters need to begin demanding more of leaders and speaking out forcefully for change. Instead, they offer nothing more than numbing silence.”
via That 200% Debt Is Reason for ‘Arab Spring’ Revolution: William Pesek – Bloomberg.
Implications of the decision by Germany to shut down its nuclear energy reactors in the light of the nuclear disaster in Fukashima Japan .
“With a total of 133 gigawatts of installed generating capacity in place at the start of this year, “there was really a huge amount of space to shut off nuclear plants,” Harry Lehmann, a director general of the German Federal Environment Agency and one of Germany’s leading policy makers on energy and environment, said of the road map he helped develop. The country needs about 90.5 gigawatts of generating capacity on hand to fill a typical national demand of about 80 gigawatts a day. So the 25 gigawatts that nuclear power contributed would not be missed — at least within its borders.
To be prudent, the plan calls for the creation of 23 gigawatts of gas- and coal-powered plants by 2020. Why? Because renewable plants don’t produce nearly to capacity if the air is calm or the sky is cloudy, and there is currently limited capacity to store or transport electricity, energy experts say.”
via Germany Dims Nuclear Plants, but Hopes to Keep Lights On – NYTimes.com.
Nuture the necessary. Focus. Find what the real problem is , what the real source of the struggle is…..then you get tangible change. “We all have the same amount of time in a day: 24 hours or 1,440 minutes. You have exactly the same amount of time that was given to Thomas Edison, Helen Keller, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa and Albert Einstein. It’s how you maximise the difference you make that’s the real challenge.
“It’s not enough to be busy. Ants are busy. What are we busy about?” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Most fundraisers I know are too busy. Because they are passionate about what they do, they put in at least 110%. The key to good innovation is to spend time at the beginning of a project to ensure that you are busy doing work that matters and projects that will make the most difference.
Often we start working on a project and get so embroiled in the detail we don’t take time out to check that we are focusing on the right activities, or even solving the right problem. For example, a fundraiser I was speaking to recently was working really hard on a supporter newsletter, the challenges of getting something printed out on time were giving them sleepless nights. I asked why they were developing a newsletter. At this point they had to really think. The original objective was to thank supporters and show them how their support had made a difference. It was also because it was ‘in plan’. The fundraiser had become so focused on the detail of a printed newsletter for a deadline according to a plan, they hadn’t considered if there were any better solutions. They had just focused on what had been done before. The fundraiser reconsidered the newsletter and with the relatively small numbers involved, tested phoning selected supporters and then creating a simple thank you letter for those supporters with no phone number. It worked well and several supporters commented that they liked receiving a personal call.
So when you are bogged down in the detail of your next project, take a step back and consider why you are doing it and if the way that’s ‘in plan’ is really the best way to achieve the outcome you want. It could be that the way you were planning is the best solution – but it’s worth taking the time to double check. Time spent getting it right at the beginning will save you time and effort in the longer term.
“If I had one hour to save the world, I would spend the first 55 minutes analysing the problem and then 5 minutes on the solutions” Einstein
There is a story about NASA developing a pen to write in space. They allegedly spent tens of millions of dollars and after several months were making no progress. So they decided to ask the Russian space team how they were writing in space. The Russians were using a pencil.
So whether you choose to believe this story or not, the point that I want you to take away is the NASA team were concerned with solving the challenge of how to push ink throough a pen when there was no gravity. They wanted to be able to write with an ink pen in space. If they had thought more broadly at the beginning of the process, perhaps about how to write in space (rather than how to write with a conventional pen) they may have come up with the solution of a pencil. If they had thought even more broadly about their challenge, they may have realised that it was actually about communication in space…. and who knows what genius solution they may have come up with.”
via Adventures in innovation – The challenge of time | Lucy Gower | 101fundraising.
Spaces have a role to play in our thinking and flow of noveau endeavours.
“A few weeks ago, four of them – Axelle Tessandier, Edward Harran, Gijs Burgmeijer, and Sagarika Sundaram – presented their experiences and projects and held a debate around the subject of creative spaces as a catalyst for “significant innovation.” Reflecting on the role of creative spaces for their innovations, they proposed three types of spaces: the mindset (brain space), the location and work environment (physical space), and the network (virtual space). They described how each of these had played a pivotal role in facilitating their projects: how the lack of privacy had occasionally fueled tensions between residents but also forced everyone to – literally – listen to other ideas; how the lack of boundaries between work and life had surfaced a growing quest for “meaning” in what you do; how “curiosity, risk-taking, and challenging the status quo” had been the key requirements for a fully immersive experience (and how some of the residents weren’t able to cope with these demands). They stressed that scarcity (space and time limits) had propelled intimacy and urgency and thus increased output intensity, and that in the face of the abundance of information and social connections on the web the experience of face-to-face collaboration had changed their concept of work: “It’s not who you know, but how well you know someone. Trust is becoming the biggest resource,” Palomar 5 participant Edward Harran put it.
via Creative Spaces and Innovation | Blog | design mind.
The peaceful , public fast of politician Hazare has resulted in a definitive committment to put legislation in place to fight corruption in India. This is significant on several fronts : the success of the method to achieve this ie peaceful means of public fasting along the historic lines of the iconic Ghandi , the importance of public support in the creation of significant public policy and thirdly , the sinal to the external business and investment community that it working and investing in India has a hope of transparency . Watch for a significant boost in economic activity in India if there is genuine enforcement to the policy.
“Mr. Hazare, 74, has been waging a hunger strike for 12 days, refusing to call it off unless Parliament adopted his proposed legislation to fight graft rather than a bill put forward by the government. Huge crowds of supporters have participated in peaceful protests and rallies across India in what became an outpouring of public disgust over corruption.
Mr. Hazare’s aides told the Indian news media that he would now probably end his fast on Sunday morning at Ramlila Maidan, the public grounds in New Delhi where thousands of supporters had already started rejoicing on Saturday night, even as lawmakers were finishing their speeches in Parliament.
“There is a need of a change in the system,” said Pranab Mukherjee, the powerful minister who introduced the resolution into the Lok Sabha, the lower house. “And we are doing so.”
Parliament must still take several steps before final passage of a law to create the anticorruption agency, known as the Lokpal, before the end of the session. Saturday’s resolution also was marked by a touch of legislative sleight-of-hand. Mr. Hazare’s team had wanted a public vote in order to identify lawmakers who opposed the measure. Instead, the measure was read aloud in both houses and given approval without a vote.
“It was unanimous,” said R. P. N. Singh, a lawmaker and government minister, when asked on NDTV, a news channel, about the lack of a vote. “Both the houses have stepped up their resolve to fight corruption.”
Mr. Hazare’s hunger strike dominated public life in India and exposed a visceral public revulsion at the depth of corruption here, large and small. Hundreds of thousands of people had poured into the streets across the country to support his campaign for a tough anticorruption agency. Movie stars, gurus, politicians, singers and others flocked to his side at Ramlila Maidan, which served as his fasting site. Crowds filled the grounds despite heat and rain.
In recent days, the impasse has been centered on three demands by Mr. Hazare: that Parliament pass a Lokpal law during its current session; that similar agencies to fight corruption be established at the state level; and that a transparent process be established for public grievances. Those demands were endorsed in Saturday’s resolution, though the final details will be codified when the legislation moves to a special parliamentary committee.”
via India’s Parliament Agrees to Anna Hazare’s Demands – NYTimes.com.
“…the renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The festival, a one-time icon of artistic rebellion, is now the largest arts gathering in the world. It is also an entertaining case study in the power of grassroots innovation and open-source creativity, a positive symbol of how unchecked human energy, shaped by a few simple rules, can unleash truly amazing results.”So what makes the Fringe function? A carefully designed “architecture of participation” that blends wild-eyed creativity with the spirit of unblinking competition. The organizers curate the largest and one of the most influential arts gatherings in the world by making the festival as compelling as possible to as many participants as possible — and then letting the participants themselves decide what happens….
“The analogy with [open-source] software is interesting,” Gudgin says. “In the arts, everyone wants to be the curator or the creative director. At the Fringe, we have to be the exact opposite. Our job is to get the circumstances absolutely right, to sell the whole experience, to make it as inviting as possible to anybody who could possibly contribute. We can’t curate new ideas into existence.”
Essentially, the Fringe is a self-organizing system governed by the self-interested calculations of four key constituencies: the performers, the venues, the audience, and the press. Any troupe or individual artist is eligible to perform; the challenge is to persuade one of the 250-plus venues to host your show. There is a well-understood hierarchy of venues in Edinburgh — certain theaters have more status than others — and different venues use different criteria to evaluate performers. Once you’re in, the challenge is to persuade visitors to attend your show as opposed to one of the hundreds of others taking place at the same time, and to persuade the critics that yours is a show worth reviewing.”
via The Fringe Beats the Mainstream – Bill Taylor – Harvard Business Review.