When Group Think is Good
Dwayne Spradlin is President and Chief Executive Officer of InnoCentive, Inc. Previously, he served as President at Hoover's Inc. and before that he was President and Chief Operating Officer of Starcite, Inc.
Spradlin served as Senior Vice President of Corporate and Business Development for Verticalnet Inc., the world's largest portfolio of online industry marketplaces. Earlier, Spradlin was a Director in the E-Business and Emerging Technology practice at PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
He holds a BA in Applied Mathematics and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
Topic: Crowdsourcing and the environment.
Dwayne Spradlin: An organization called the Oil Spill Recovery Institute, based in Cordova, Alaska was really formed as a partnership between not-for-profit interests, government and the oil companies, after Exxon Valdez spill. They were focused on was: how do you clean up oil spills in sub arctic waters? Which requires kind of a different way of thinking.
Oil in sub-arctic waters get so cold it’s almost like a solid, you can’t pump it. So what most people don’t realize is that there are still ~80,000 barrels off of Prince William Sound, off the coast of Alaska that still haven’t been cleaned up from the Exxon Valdez spill. So in the last couple of years, after really years of trying to figure out how to get the oil out, and running up against this problem of very viscous, almost solid, oil they put a challenge on the InnoCentive network to try to find a solution to this. In about three months this was put out all over the world and dozens and dozens of really interesting, innovative and creative solutions came in. But they awarded the winning solution to a construction engineer from the Midwest. What he recognized is that keeping oil liquid in cold waters is not so different in trying to keep cement liquid in pouring a foundation.
Again, organizations would have never thought to look there. That’s the power of diversity--getting everybody involved in solving a problem.
It turns out what he recommended is that if you will off the shelf construction equipment that vibrates the cement keeps it liquid, with slight modifications could be used in the barge systems that are trying to pump the oil off the bottom of the Sound. So, they’re doing that now.
What’s most exciting about this for me is the follow up. There was a $20,000 prize and this gentleman John Davis flies himself to Cordova, Alaska, using the prize money, to meet the people he was helping. And now he is doing pro bono work for them, and the Oil Spill Recovery Institute now runs challenges routinely over InnoCentive. They call InnoCentive their virtual laboratory. We are their laboratory.
But the real moral of the story for me is this, he didn’t do it for the $20,000. He did it to make a difference in the world and that passion is probably one of the most important currencies you can imagine.
Recorded on: June 3, 2009.
Many years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, off-the-shelf cement equipment is now being used clean up oil in arctic waters.
Torn between absolutism on the left and the right, classical liberalism—with its core values of compassion and incremental progress whereby the once-radical becomes the mainstream—is in need of a good defense. And Adam Gopnik is its lawyer.
- Liberalism as "radical pragmatism"
- Intersectionality and civic discourse
- How "a thousand small sanities" tackled drunk driving, normalized gay marriage, and could control gun violence
Irish president believes students need philosophy.
- President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins calls for students to be thought of as more than tools made to be useful.
- Higgins believes that philosophy and history should be a basic requirement forming a core education.
- The Irish Young Philosopher Awards is one such event that is celebrating this discipline among the youth.
The lost practice of face-to-face communication has made the world a more extreme place.
- The world was saner when we spoke face-to-face, argues John Cameron Mitchell. Not looking someone in the eye when you talk to them raises the potential for miscommunication and conflict.
- Social media has been an incredible force for activism and human rights, but it's also negatively affected our relationship with the media. We are now bombarded 24/7 with news that either drives us to anger or apathy.
- Sitting behind a screen makes polarization worse, and polarization is fertile ground for conspiracy theories and fascism, which Cameron describes as irrationally blaming someone else for your problems.
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