Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Revolutions and Innovative Organizations

Jessica Flannery, co-founder of Kiva, reviews Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in the Winter Issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review. I thought this bit was good:
Thankfully, anomalies happen. We get shaken up, surprised, or just baffled by life. We get hints that the world might be different from what we'd thought. It's easy to shun these inklings and to tell ourselves, "No, that can't be true," or "I must be crazy," or "But that's just not the way things work." Sometimes, however, the anomalies are true, and we're nor crazy, and we've gotten a glimpse of something that could actually redefine the way things work. A well-timed, powerful new insight has the potential to shape an entirely new paradigm around it-shifting the scope of possibility in the world!

When I became an MBA student at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Kuhn's ideas melded with my studies of innovative organizations and how these organizations create new products, new markets, and in a way, entirely new paradigms. Many begin with a bold, fresh insight about how things could be better-a kind of prescriptive anomaly. They then build themselves around this vision. Sitting in one of Professor Bill Barnett's strategy courses one day, I realized that this was happening with Kiva, then only a year old: We had seen before us the enormous untapped potential of entrepreneurs' stories to form connections and inspire action, and we had then used technology and microfinance to build the company around this insight.
The article is subscription only, but here is the current link anyway.

Update: For those that want to know more about Kiva, check out my earlier post about the other co-founder, Matt Flannery, Jessica's husband. My earlier post has a link to a piece about Kiva that Matt wrote for Innovations Journal. That article, Kiva and the Birth of Person-to-Person Microfinance is here.

1 comment:

  1. Kiva is super cool! I haven't used it myself but I read about it often - so interesting to see how they got their start. Thanks for sharing!