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Innovation, Inclusion and Intergenerational Influence

Know the feeling? You’re washing your hands, and someone still paying his respect to the porcelain throne starts whistling “this is how you do it”. Before you know, the earworm is with you for the rest of the day.  Some kind of musical string of code profoundly interacted with your basic operating system, put a smile on your face, and made you hum –unconsciously- for the better part of 24 hours.

The first day of SXSW did not disappoint. On International Women’s Day the show was not only paying tribute to brave, tenacious, creative, amazing, inspiring, innovating and unique women everywhere. Through a multitude of presentations, tributes panels and cases the steady beating drum of total equality made the Austin Conference Center vibrate with inclusion.


Inclusion (/ɪnˈkluːʒ(ə)n/) is the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure. Being included. Literally being an integrated part of.  You cannot imagine water, without the H in H2O. The H and the O have total inclusion in the identity of water. Water without Oxygen is just Hydrogen. Male and female need to have total inclusion in the very fabric of society. Only then will we achieve the full potential of us as a species. Those are big words. But SXSW does not leave room for interpretation: the battle of emancipation is over. The time of glass ceilings done. The time for excuses long gone: we should not stop until everyone is fully included in what we call society. On every. Single. Layer.  Guy Kawasaki massively hammered it home: “We cannot ignore the added value of more than half of humanities combined genepool. That would be irresponsible, and plain stupid”.  (Kawasaki showed class as a moderator by flawlessly eliminating himself from the equation during the strong line up of strong women that the Mercedes Media Lounge host Stephanie Agresta had lined up. He only pointed out that he, in his early sixties, happily works at Canvas for a way younger and brilliant woman.)

Indeed, inclusion does not stop at finally achieving gender equality. If we want to have our full potential, we’ll need inclusion for the elderly, disabled and the LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual) on the full spectrum of personalities. Inclusion is an action word. Not only do we need to blast all barriers for inclusion into oblivion, but we need to kick everyone forward to actively go, grab, fight, explore, learn, struggle, fail, and reboot until she/he/it achieves full potential.

If we want to beat the very real challenges for tomorrow, we’ll have to tackle them as a TIS, a Total Inclusion Society.


Stephen Hawking made us rethink disabled people from the very walls of his wheel chair. Michele Obama makes young women of color bristle with pride and empowerment.   Young girls need to get inspired by female Chief Intelligence Officers that propel our corporations and brands safely into tomorrow. Female astronauts need to pave the way to Mars and beyond. Innovation needs to be fueled and steered from all human quadrant sides, regardless of age, gender, ability, disability, religion, (a)sexuality and life choices. 

Innovation also requires to let go of reality, and invent a new one. No car without letting go the reality of horses, no space exploration without beating the hard reality of gravity, no computers without beating the limited serial processing speed of our brains.

A core of speakers are pointing out that we will not innovate with fixing what we have. We’ll innovate by inventing what we need. Sadly, a big part of our corporate reality is based on bonus and compensation systems that rewards containing the now in a no-surprise- controlled way. If we do not find ways of rewarding our most brilliant people to try, to fail, and to invent… we’re doomed.

Intergenerational Influence

We also learned at this first day of SXSW that we need to see innovation across generation, and across time. As a fervent reader of the better science fiction, I have always wondered: Do they really see the future? Or are they making up something nice in their minds that inspires somebody a few generations later in “O, that’s a cool idea, let’s make this?” Would Kennedy have commandeered the full potential of the USA (man AND women) for a decade to put a man on the moon if he had not read Jules Verne?

Did Bruce Sterling invent Augmented Reality Glasses in his steampunk novels decades ago? Or did Astro Teller, notorious captain of Google X get inspired by the book, and decided just to build it, just because he could?

Truth is, it does not matter. We need to make people of all generations, all genders dream their dream. Sooner or later, dreams do get built. That, history has proven… time and time again…

*whistles* this is how we do it…

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