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  • How Do We Expand Entrepreneurship?

    Insight labs, a Chicago-based agency, is using brainstorming as means to solving seemingly difficult problems in the non-profit . Check out the article in Fast Company. Jeff Leitner is the thought architect behind these panels. According to Leitner, these panels work because recruiting smart people to engage in brainstorming on problems that they do not have a direct interest in leads to higher levels of innovative thinking. Insight labs uses these ideas that come out of these mission-driven, not-for-profit work to their corporate gigs and have unearthed an innovative business development strategy.

    An interesting quote from the article:

    One of the lab’s most successful panels involved the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. The hospital desperately needed to raise cash in 2010, following the global economic downturn, for its new building. Yet, Chicago donors weren’t feeling as generous as they had in the past. How could the hospital raise the money it needed to finish the construction and continue to serve the community?

    The panel Insight Labs convened on behalf of the hospital decided that the institution’s problem lay in its branding rather than its mission. Instead of asking donors to fund some boring capital improvement project, the hospital needed to think of its ties to the community and the way it helped Chicagoans lead healthier lives. The panel decided the hospital really was leading a public health movement rather than simply opening a new facility. The conclusion changed the hospital’s strategy.

    What is the real value of entrepreneurship in society? Lots of people are talking about entrepreneurship – in business schools, at business conferences and in the pages of business magazines. But entrepreneurship is a way of engaging the world, not just your job. This is the question that Insight Labs tackled in a recent panel.

    Participants in the December 2011 Insight Lab including a couple of our EMBA faculty – in partnership with the Academy of Entrepreneurial Leadership at the University of Illinois – set out to tackle the real value of entrepreneurship in our society and work to isolate the key to broader, deeper adoption. Check out the brief documentary at the Insight Labs website.


    Raj Echambadi
    Professor of Business Administration and
    James F. Towey Faculty Fellow and
    Executive MBA Academic Director