OSI for Communities

If we want to do more, better, and faster we need new strategy tools. In the United States and Asheville as well we invest a lot in communicating our positions. It’s time to be effective and efficient when it comes to our major challenges through optimized collaboration.

Open Strategic Innovation (OSI) is a system for strategic innovation. OSI for Communities (OSIC) is a system for community strategic innovation. InnovoGraph focuses on tools and technique supporting strategists. InnovoGraph supports strategists with value–amplifying strategy, innovation, and design thinking capabilities.

It can be a challenge to upgrade our strategy and innovation skills when such practices are not part of most education programs and a vast range of definitions exist among individuals and organizations. The subject of tools is important in order to do more, better, and faster when it comes to strategic innovation. At the same time there are multitude offers. InnovoGraph is a Asheville, North Carolina business so we appreciate being hired by individuals and organizations also working here in the state or who may be in other parts of America. InnovoGraph isn’t selling it’s own software, merely using some low adoption cost applications to make strategic innovation happen.

To see some OSIC alternatives and establish a evaluation starting point, by all means take a look at the NCSU Institute for Emerging Issues online Commons and Internet search “public participation software” and “innovation ecosystem software”.

Unfortunately while there are still several often expensive public participation applications that are controlled through the service provider and government, there is no good ‘innovation ecosystem application’ alternative to OSI on Podio beyond the many custom online environments that organizations have created over the years, or Google Groups. A math function and the other features Podio offers makes sense in innovation ecosystem work.

OSIC serves as backbone system for a range of contexts. InnovoGraph developed Sustain NC as a Smart Cities and Towns Network demonstration using OSIC.

OSIC Six Points 2

“The great driver of scientific and technological innovation [in the last 600 years has been] the increase in our ability to reach out and exchange ideas with other people, and to borrow other people’s hunches and combine them with our hunches and turn them into something new.” – Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From

The OSIC mission is to act an innovation ecosystem service for community members to freely join community innovation and opportunity ecosystem (IOE) activities. No PhD, CEO or government office credentials required. OSIC is a technical backbone support system for our innovation and opportunity ecosystems with both social media and business features. OSIC is a low adoption cost/high value platform for driving the pursuit of social, environmental and economic equity answers.

OSIC is a civic engagement opportunity for commercial brands, government agencies, nonprofit and impact investment entities to interface with emerging community unmet needs and innovators. OSIC offers modern collaboration and strategic innovation tools to solve local, national and global challenges at both the pioneer level and mature organization innovation phases.


Current National Innovation Ecosystem definition

“The people, institutions, policies and resources that promote the translation of new ideas into products, processes and services are generally recognized to comprise the innovation ecosystem.” – National Science Foundation, I-Corps


As a GroWNC consortium member I got a first hand look at the real world value of this community engagement and community strategic innovation work. GroWNC was the Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities (PSC) program for Western North Carolina. There have been several of these PSC programs in North Carolina alone. More are scattered across the nation.

Even though GroWNC is closing as an active program, the GroWNC data has been migrated to a ‘GroWNC II’ OSI on Podio workspace for updating and ongoing strategic innovations. GroWNC is a great example of this kind of OSIC programming. As a citizen and owner of a knowledge business I made a commitment to keep this systems approach to strategy moving forward and to keep adding to and repurposing the data.

Part of the PSC programming is the option of learning cohorts linking all these regional programs. Ideally there will be a national network of PSC participants. OSIC can facilitate such an IOE.

OSIC: The Platform

In terms of tools, OSIC uses two basic technologies: a social business platform, Podio; and a visual management system, MindJet MindManager. Most folks will be working with OSIC in Podio. OSI on MindJet work is usually part of an InnovoGraph client engagement. There is a wave of physical location ‘tech only’ or social impact incubators in development or installed across the nation.

OSIC offers a flexible virtual alternative and management system. The distributed, ‘DIY’ nature of OSIC offers the opportunity for change and programming innovations at speed. The individual and startup level is embraced as everyone ends up with a Podio account.

OSI MindJet-Podio DetailsClick image for larger view

A civic engagement and innovation support system that requires a computing device and Internet connect connectivity introduces the digital divide challenge. There are face-to-face physical space special event and programming options to support OSIC deployment in your community and through your organization, of course. But the early adopters can start with OSIC now. By the way, one of the Asheville-Buncombe OSIC teams is addressing digital divide issues.

There are few if any good virtual IOE solutions that can do the jobs OSIC does. The workflow and intelligence gathering capabilities of OSIC add a missing ‘system logic’ in classic economic development and social/environmental impact response management.

OSI on Podio Home Page

Podio Home Screen

Click image for larger view

Don’t be thrown by the Podio website references to issues like ‘customer relationship management’. Yes, Podio can support startups and small and medium enterprises with basic business needs. No, Podio does not generate fancy data visualizations. But be assured OSI on Podio is a great starting point for your virtual community innovation and opportunity ecosystem.

More information: OSI on Podio Basics

IEI Commons and the Connecticut iHub programs are alternatives to OSIC. These are also very expensive OSIC alternatives. It’s questionable just on utilitarian grounds whether those ‘mega site’ examples do the innovation support system job as well as the OSIC distributed system model. The imaginative results of OSIC are also more ‘open’.

OSI on MindJet Strategy Map

Universal Strategy and Innovation ElementsClick image for larger view

OSIC value added

Systemic, managed yet distributive (open) strategic and product/service level innovation platform for communities:

  • UCC: Unified communications and collaboration
  • Discrete individual and group management system workspaces
  • InnovoGraph OSIC reporting as to ‘what’s happening’ within the IOE and specific value for OSIC Intelligence subscribers
  • Future of Work professional and workforce development skills
  • Community knowledge management
  • Low adoption cost/high value management system for IOE pioneers
  • Classic private startup and social, environmental and economic launch platform
  • Other strategic applications like social physics

Currently OSIC is being deployed in the Asheville area and North Carolina. A basic OSIC Intelligence subscription includes access to any or all of the NC IOE workspaces. InnovoGraph is available to set up an OSIC program in your region or tailored to your program.

The InnovoGraph Innovation Challenge Matrix is a first good step alongside OSI on Podio, the Business Model Generation and Rainforest innovation ecosystem canvasses and Flexons (Flexible Objects for Generating Novel Solutions). Please contact InnovoGraph to co-create a solution.

OSIC is community innovators collaborating and taking community and global data, information and knowledge and rendering understanding and wisdom for new and renewing public strategies, as well as commercial, nonprofit, or social enterprise innovations. OSIC is a ‘beyond tech’ accelerator that is virtual, but becomes a partner service for physical incubators, accelerators and other actors in regional innovation and opportunity ecosystems (IOE).

In terms of OSI’s social business platform tool, Podio, such social business or social economy tools help:

  • Unlock $900 billion to $1.3 trillion in overall market value in ten example areas for sectors like professional services and advanced manufacturing
  • Raise the productivity of knowledge workers by 20 – 25 percent

Source: The Social Economy – Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies, McKinsey & Company

At the same time Gallup is reporting that only 29% of US workers are engaged in their work… and the US figures are the best possible globally!

  • Not engaged: 54%
  • Actively disengaged: 18%

Civic engagement is in demand when it comes to government-community relationships, but also in terms of nonprofits and social enterprise organizations. Whether its corporate crisis management or a real estate development, this engagement function at the community level applies. If we are forward thinking enough to imagine our organizations as micro-communities, then engagement, productivity and innovation tie together internally or externally… and the lines do blur at the edges with innovation ecosystem theory. Done well and with a security policy that’s a good thing.

The InnovoGraph OSI solution is deigned to meet needs at the SME level, including nonprofits and local government departments. The InnovoGraph role is to advocate for doing more, faster and better in a hyper competitive global market for communities facing complex, highly adversarial social, economic and environmental impacts. The point of OSI for Communities is to add flexible, integration tools that include powerful social business, or unified communications and collaboration (UCC), features.

A metaphor for social business/UCC would be taking the capabilities of Facebook and the Microsoft Office line, including Microsoft Project, and mashing many of those tools into one or two platforms. The second key OSI technology is MindJet MindManager, a visual management system. There is no single website that does these UCC and analytical jobs. A good web based mind map service option is MindMeister. MindManager can be downloaded and after the 30-day trial it becomes a perfectly good strategy map viewer.

McKinsey’s The Social Economy is optimistic, while MIT SMR’s Social Business – Shifting Out of First Gear article indicates it is not necessarily easy to find the social business early adopters. Solutions like OSI are about developing the technical backbone of our innovation and opportunity ecosystem (IOE). Keep that message mentally in bold as well as the McKinsey valuation numbers. Also that Podio has a free account option.

It’s time to take on the challenge of expanding economic development theory into 21st modes of work. InnovoGraph doesn’t have all the answers. OSIC is simply a highly competitive solution for driving the pursuit of social, environmental and economic equity answers.

OSIC is also solving a management system gap in the impact-investing realm, according to the report Bridging the “Pioneer Gap”: The Role of Accelerators in Launching High-Impact Enterprises from The Aspen Institute and Village Capital as well as the Duke CASE i3 report Accelerating Impact Enterprises: How to Lock, Stock, and Anchor Impact Enterprises for Maximum Impact. Moving into the future of work and collaborative strategic innovation has a low adoption cost with InnovoGraph supporting.

Instead of building yet another website it takes minutes to clone an OSIC workspace. This particular OSIC technical aspect is more akin to creating a Facebook Page than building a website, yet the tools would be very expensive to recreating as a public-facing website. The key difference between an OSIC on Podio workspace and a website is that Podio is a third party cloud solution, like Facebook. But Podio data can for the most part be exported to Excel and links to document systems like Dropbox and Google Drive.

Feel free to engage InnovoGraph and arrange an InnovoGraph Connected Strategists and the Future of Work event to cover applications of OSI tailored for your organization and community needs.

Stay tuned for the OSIC Network Model. For those in Swannanoa and Buncombe County, NC add input concerning the future of Swannanoa here:

Swannanoa 2025

Grant Millin, owner and innovation strategist
InnovoGraph LLC