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Connecting the Edges by Richard Adler

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Innovation is rarely a solo activity. It most often takes place within 

networks that bring people together in ways that encourage creativity 

and allow good ideas to be turned into action. The place where innovation is most likely to flourish is not at the core of organizations but at 

the edge where the weight of inertia is less inhibiting and where disruptive initiatives are more likely to be tolerated. 

Digital network technologies are creating new possibilities for collaboration outside the confines of traditional institutions. These new 

capabilities not only threaten to disrupt many existing business enterprises but also educational institutions that find themselves challenged 

by the rise of Massively Open Online Courses and other non-conventional forms of learning. In each case, it is at the edge of organizations 

where the most exciting developments are taking place, where new 

ideas, new technologies and new ways of working are being combined 

in promising ways. If we are going to re-start vigorous, inclusive economic development, and ultimately realize the full potential of new 

ways of doing things, we need to learn how to foster edge institutions 

that will accelerate innovation and find more effective mechanisms for 

linking the edge to the core