This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

November 26, 2008

Encouraging Innovation

Some months ago now, the leading search engine Google launched a competition calling for ideas "to change the world by helping as many people as possible". It was open to anyone anywhere in the world.

They call the contest "Project 10100" (pronounced "Project 10 to the 100th"); 10100 is another way of expressing the number "googol", a one followed by one hundred zeroes. The goal of the challenge reflects the company's goal---"to achieve great results through smart technology that starts small and scales dramatically over time to have a tremendous long-term impact". The Project is a similar attempt to produce those kinds of scalable results by harnessing [their] users' insights and creativity. Yes, Google wants to help change the world for the better. Unfortunately, the deadline for submission of ideas was October 20, 2008.

However, you can still vote on the idea you believe is best. The voting on ideas will begin on January 27, 2009. (They will send you a reminder to vote, if you wish?) At that time Google will post a selection of one hundred ideas and ask you, the public, to choose twenty semi-finalists. Then an advisory board will select up to five final ideas. To implement these projects, Google has committed $10 million, and their goal is to help as many people as possible.

This Project reminds us of others. Many of us have heard about the X Prize given for Space Flight. Yet, the X Prize Foundation is planning other prizes in diverse fields, including Health Care, Education Energy and Environment, Exploration, Global Entrepreneurship, and Life Sciences.

The other well-publicized competition to encourage innovation is the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Challenge. For years, the United States Department of Defense has had an interest in developing a driverless vehicle that would navigate long distances. Remarkable technological advancements have emerged from this annual contest.

Expect more entrepreneurs, private enterprise and government entities to offer incentives to encourage and reward innovation. For the entrepreneurs, the pay-off is leaving the legacy of a better world; for private enterprise, it is about demonstrating corporate social responsibility; for government, it is about advancing defense technologies at a relatively reasonable cost.

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