Sunday, October 12, 2008

Urban Labs and Innovation

First of all I must apologize, I didn’t write in this 

blog for long (besides my problems with ebay). In fact I have been pretty busy in the past months because of teaching, speeches, research and projects.

I hope I will be able to write about some of this stuff soon, but today I would like to comment a bit Urban Labs.

I was invited to give a keynote speech in the first session of Urban Labs (  that has been a very refreshing and engaging experience (thank a lot Vicens and Ramon!!).

It was really a pleasure to have the opportunity to engage in a conversation with so many friends coming from University, Open movements and Administration. However, the representation from companies was scare to say the least. This divide is characteristic from Spain – although much less in the Basque country – where industry still focus almost exclusively to the most traditional business models. There is a huge contrast with for example in North Europe where many times you find together people from companies and Open Movements and where mix models are more prevalent.

One of the enlightening surprises of the conference was how well known and well understood the Open Innovation ideas are. Of course, one could argue that after all we are talking about ideas that are more than half a decade old and that they are now entering into the “airport bookstore” level in the food chain. All this is obviously true, however I doubt that we can find the same level of understanding on the mechanics and motivation that drives Open Source or Open Platforms in the Spanish Business community, ideas that came from the same period if not older.

Also refreshing was the interest on new organizational structures and mix environments coming from the people working in the Administration. We don’t have yet a wide translation of coordination activities engrained into platforms, p2p production or Open movements in Administration and this is clearly an opportunity that must be taken. Still in Administration the coordination process is carried out by a management structure, effectively limiting participation, unnecessarily enlarging management, dividing citizens between the ones who manage and the ones who are managed and preventing contributions from the normal citizens that are not “professionals”. Administrations have a lot to learn from organizations like Amazon or Lego in ways to involve citizens and platforms that can carry on coordination in an open way. Finding people in the administration with the ambition to explore all that was certainly refreshing.

Also it was very nice the opportunity to talk lengthy with Michel Bauwens ( ) about p2p coordination models and their implications for innovation.

Congratulations to everybody for an event that situated the discussion beyond the repetition of what is already public domain and dare to explore novel approaches and new territories !!!! Companies – please put this event into your agendas, these are ideas worth to be incorporated as people like P&G, Amazon, Lego, IBM and many others show us on a daily basis.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Esteve,
Thanks for your talk, it was great, very visual and entertaining!!!

Regarding your blog, I see you have posted a lot in infonomia. Maybe you can repeat some of those posts here. It is possible to add posts with a "past" date.

9:48 AM  
Blogger esteve almirall said...

Thank you very much!!!

Yes I had around 250 posts in Infonomia ... the problem is always time, or better, the lack of time :-)

Thanks again!!!

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Massimo Menichinelli said...

Hola Esteve,

I completely agree with you about the lack of companies at the event. I hope this will change in the next UrbanLabs, as companies are very important for the product/services we need in a city, even to put in practice new and very innovative Collaborative Activities!

On the other side, I am happy that a lot of people from public administrations were present at the event and interested in Open Innovation, it was maybe the the highest goal for the event (as Josep Vives told me) as they have a mindset and structure completely different from the Open Culture ones and we need to work with them in order to design better Collaborative Activities for the cities.

Do you think that maybe we could push Open Innovation starting from Administrations and ending with Companies? It seems to me to be more difficult to start from Administrations rather that from Companies, but if they prove to be more interested in Open Innovation maybe they could convince and help Companies adopt Open Innovation principles and practices.

What do you think about it?

And thank you very much for you presentation! :-)

12:04 PM  
Blogger esteve almirall said...

Ciao Massimo :-)

Thank you very much!

We already had quite some events in Barcelona regarding Open Innovation and Urban Labs was position in this intersection bt Open Innovation, User Innovation and Open Source like communities.

In many respects this intersection is quite new in Spain, where many companies still think of Stallman or alikes when somebody talks about Open Source...

But, yes for me it was a surprise too, to see Administrations so receptive :-) and yes Open Innovation is not restricted to market based companies, public companies and public administrations could benefit a lot of OI, both for itself and implementing policies that support an OI environment.

Completely agree :-)

See you soon!


12:20 PM  

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