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THINK Forum

By Lee Green IBM VP of Brand Experience and Strategic Design

The history of measurement may seem arcane, but consider how people centuries ago measured time, length, or the Earth’s rotation. Compare that to measuring atoms with a scanning tunneling microscope — and all the historic milestones in between.

Today IBM is releasing a free, interactive app, IBM THINK Exhibit, for iPad and Android tablets. It shows how early tools have evolved into modern advances that make the world word work better — healthier populations, greener energy and safer, less congested cities. The app is for people of all ages who love science, history and technology — think of it as an “innovation time machine.”

A page from the IBM THINK Exhibit app that traces the history of metal detectors to President James Garfield.

Through thousands of images and historical anecdotes, IBM THINK Exhibit app brings to life stories of the history of progress, from space exploration to weather prediction and medical advances. It documents the roots of Big Data, from early charts and scales to microscopes and telescopes, from RFID chips and biomedical sensors in clothing to breath-sensor diabetes detectors.

The app shows how maps have been used to track data from early geographical charts to today’s data visualizations. It chronicles how “models” have been used to understand the complex behaviors of our world – from the Wright Brothers’ plane prototype in 1903, to today’s airline mechanical parts simulations. Given its strong educational bent, the app will even be used to create lesson plans for middle school students later this year.

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THINK Exhibit 1

The crowds of New Yorkers and tourists who frequent the area around New York’s Lincoln Center may be wondering what’s going on near the corner of Broadway and Columbus Avenue. A driveway ramp lined with a 123-foot electronic data visualization wall leads down to an underground parking garage that has been converted into the THINK exhibit. (Believe me; it’s a lot cooler than it sounds.)

The exhibit was created by IBM in connection with its centennial celebrations. The data wall depicts visualizations of several of New York City’s challenges including water leakage, air pollution, traffic and credit card fraud, along with the potential for harvesting solar energy from rooftops. The media experience in the enclosed space at the bottom of the ramp includes a video, experienced on 40 interactive media columns, laying out the potential for making progress. These large vertical interactive touch screens then allow visitors to learn more about topics including smarter transportation systems, improved food production and the promise of personalized medicine. The quality of the displays is amazing–engaging not only your brain but your emotions. For me, the experience was nothing less than mind blowing.

The goal is to inspire people who visit with the message that the world can be made better if people know what’s really going on, understand the potential to improve things, and make smart decisions about how to do it. The exhibit is organized around an idea spelled out by Jeffrey O’Brien, one of my co-authors of IBM’s centennial book, Making the World Work Better, which posits that large-scale progress and innovation tends to follow a common development path: seeing, mapping, understanding, believing and acting. In a city known for its many museums and exhibits, this one stands out because its not just an enriching and educational experience; it’s also a call to action.

The hope is that people who visit, which includes the public and 700 attendees of IBM’s two-day gathering of global leaders, THINK: A Forum on the Future of Leadership, will be motivated to pitch in and help improve everything from the quality of life in their city or town to the sustainability of the natural environment. Lee Green, the IBM vice president who was in charge of making the exhibit happen, says, “We want to show people how progress comes about when you take a systematic approach to solving problems.” Ralph Appelbaum, the famed exhibit designer who was one of the masterminds of the THINK exhibit, said early on in the planning process that he hoped the people who visited the space would become “ambassadors to the future.”

A tip of the hat to the four firms that created the exhibit: SYPartners for the concept design, content development and creative direction, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Inc. for planning and design, Mirada for the direction, design and production of film, interactives and data visualization, and George P. Johnson for the general management of the exhibit production and fabrication. Susana Rodriguez de Tembleque, executive creative director at SYPartners, says, “The design of the experience was deliberately immersive to make the idea of progress palpable and visceral.”

The exhibit brings to the public some of the key themes of THINK Forum, and, indeed, IBM’s centennial celebration. Progress doesn’t happen on its own. It requires bold leadership, taking the long view and developing a strong and cultivating a values-based culture. Organizations need to harness science, innovation and the power of collaboration t”o make the world work better.

The THINK exhibit is open to the public September 23-October 23. You can view the data wall at any time. The main exhibit is a 35-minute timed session that requires a free ticket, which can be pick up at the box office at the bottom of the ramp.

For those who can’t get to the exhibit, here’s a video that captures the flavor of the experience.

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September 22nd, 2011
11:00
 

Whew! IBM’s THINK Forum is over. The two-day event that brought 700 future leaders to New York City’s Lincoln Center took on some of the huge issues of our day–how to lead in a time of rapid and sometimes nearly chaotic change; how to make the world work better at a time when it seems to be devolving in many ways.

We really went crazy with social media, publishing 10 blog posts, including four live blog posts capturing the happenings on stage and behind the scenes. If you missed them, click back to our posts from Sept. 16 to yesterday. Today, we added a bunch of videos of the happenings on stage.

Update: Here’s a video that captures the essence of the ideas and conversations at the THINK Forum.

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Additional multimedia content is also available:

At  IBM’s main YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/user/IBM, see videos of forum speakers by renown documentary maker Errol Morris, plus short videos of attendees shot in our THINKBooth, which was an update on the old photo booths in entertainment arcades.

On the IBM Social Media YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/user/IBMSocialMedia, more videos of attendees.

On Twitter, see Tweets from the masses at hash tags #THINK and #IBM100.

On the Facebook page People for a Smarter Planet, http://www.facebook.com/peopleforasmarterplanet, see plenty of posts and reactions.

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September 21st, 2011
7:55
 

As part of its Centennial celebration, IBM has organized THINK: A Forum on the Future of Leadership, a gathering of 700 future leaders representing business, government, science and academia from around the world. The topic: What will it take to navigate the opportunities and threats that emerge over the coming decades? This live blog presents frequent updates–highlighting comments by speakers and issues raised.

To learn more about the event, click here. To interact via Twitter, use #Think or #IBM100.

Update: Here’s a video that sums up the ideas and conversations of the THINK Forum:

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September 21st, 2011
7:00
 

Dispatches from IBM’s THINK: A Forum on the Future of Leadership.

By Mauricio Godoy
and Chris Andrews
IBM Communications

Gary Barnett, an analyst at The Bathwick Group, an IT market research group, talks about how rapid and radical change in the business environment will force radical changes in leadership.

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By Joi Ito
Director, MIT Media Lab
A speaker at THINK: A Forum on the Future of Leadership, in New York City today

joiThe Internet has enabled the cost of the production and distribution of ideas and information to plummet nearly to zero–resulting in an explosion of ideas and a low cost of collaboration. This has prompted a great deal of innovation, but also a complexity, speed and capacity for amplification that makes the world a difficult and dangerous place for many organizations and human-made systems designed for a slower and simpler era.

The cost of planning, predicting and managing rapidly changing, complex systems often exceeds the cost of actually doing whatever is being planned and managed. In fact, it can be often easier to try something and iterate than to try to predict the outcome and manage the risks. Most great ideas as well as dramatic failures have been unpredictable and are only obvious in hindsight. (Don’t get me wrong: foreknowledge and planning are useful and, often, necessary; they’re just not sufficient.)

In such a world, leadership hinges on the ability to master a broad set of skills and character traits necessary for fostering a robust system, including courage, flexibility, speed, values and a strong vision and trajectory. It’s more important to have a strong compass than a detailed street map since the map is probably outdated and wrong.

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By Stanley S. Litow
VP, Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs
IBM

Stan LitowWhen 700 future world leaders gathered today at IBM’s centennial conference, THINK: a Forum on the Future of Leadership, they heard some of today’s leaders from government, business, academia and science make provocative statements about what it will take to lead successfully in this, the first truly global century.

IBMers think about these issues every day. We’re constantly experimenting with new ideas about how to renew our enterprise. One of our most successful experiments in recent years is the Corporate Service Corps. Through the three-year-old program, IBM sends teams of from eight to 15 high-potential employees to work with government, business and civic leaders in emerging markets to help them address high-priority issues. The program is designed to boost our efforts to be more global and to help enable progress by using advanced technologies to make a smarter planet. Indeed, the CSC has emerged as a new model for leadership development and social engagement in the 21st century. Continue Reading »

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September 20th, 2011
13:45
 

As part of its Centennial celebration, IBM has organized THINK: A Forum on the Future of Leadership, a gathering of 700 future leaders representing business, government, science and academia from around the world. The topic: what will it take to navigate the opportunities and threats that emerge over the coming decades? This live blog presents frequent updates–highlighting comments by speakers and issues raised.

To learn more about the event, click here. To interact via Twitter, use #Think or #IBM100.

At IBM’s THINK Forum in New York City, Errol Morris talks to IBM CEO Sam Palmisano about ethical leadership challenges. Palmisano explains that to be a successful leader, leadership values are critical and the leader must think beyond just his own job and look at the business, the enterprise and society when making decisions

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September 20th, 2011
13:25
 

Dispatches from IBM’s THINK: A Forum on the Future of Leadership

By Mauricio Godoy and Chris Andrews
IBM Communications

Sara Arildsson, director of IBM’s Software Group in Sweden, talks about how global economic uncertainty and cost pressures actually present an opportunity to companies and their clients. They can share what they learn about dealing with adversity and help each other solve their problems

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By Carmen Medina
Deloitte Consulting
Former director, CIA Center for the Study of Intelligence
A speaker at THINK: A Forum on the Future of Leadership, in New York City today

medinaAs we seek to build a smarter planet, a smarter government, smarter cities, and smarter communities, we need to take advantage of the new ways of sensing and knowing. And we need to develop and deploy the new technologies for sensemaking on their own terms rather than trying to force them to fit with our previous ways of doing things.

This strikes me as the great challenge of this century, particularly since new technologies will keep coming at us  at faster and faster rates. The contest is not between competing camps of knowledge workers or between us and the machines that we construct. Instead, the contest is between the reality we have and the future we might attain, and sensemaking will be one of our most important aids in making progress.

So our future depends on the ability of leaders to transform the organizations they lead as quickly and effectively as they absorb powerful new technologies–and in sync with the capabilities of those new tools.  Continue Reading »

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