A strong sense of community defines the Kellogg Innovation Network—the KIN.
What began as a gathering of a few dozen business innovation leaders in 2003 has evolved into a unique network of networks, one that crosses sectors— business, government, nonprofit, arts, sciences, academia, defense—and literally spans the globe.
The KIN is much more than the sum of its many parts:
The Four Pillars
The KIN's ability to remain nimble and flexible, spinning off new initiatives while at the same time establishing itself as an institution, is largely due to the four pillars on which it has been built. Each is important, but it is the interaction of the four that has provided the stability and resilience to embrace change and take risks.
The first pillar is Community, which requires trust. It is trust, built over time through meetings and conversations, that forges a vibrant network of people willing to help one another and also to ask for help. Although rarely recognized as such, trust plays a key role in innovation and entrepreneurship: It takes a community to turn a crazy idea into a brilliant business. It takes a community to shift a paradigm with the potential to change the world for the better.
Discovery, the second pillar, requires an unbounded curiosity: If you always look in the same places, you are liable to find the same answers. Discovery of means shedding a comfort zone to be able to "think different." The intentional combination of insights from across a range of sectors, and also gleaned from individual experiences, is a hallmarks of a KIN event. Discovery is about shifting perspective, opening up the possibility to new ways of thinking and doing.
Synchronicity, the third pillar, first described by Carl Jung as "meaningful coincidences," is the alignment of what is needed falling into place at just the right time. It is deeper then serendipity, which implies an element of luck. The KIN is about stacking the odds for synchronicity. Indeed, the KIN's motto could very well be "Never leave serendipity to chance!"
The final pillar is Impact, which is at once the easiest to see and the most difficult to define. The contradiction is at the core of what keeps the KIN nimble. Impact—making what is hoped to be positive change—is manifest by the community in a range of ways. A Catalyst's stated raison d'être is to catalyze the transformation of an industry sector. The network effect where members of the KIN seek one another out for advice and collaboration can be more difficult to measure, but with the potential to be just as significant.
Community. Discovery. Synchronicity. Impact. Together, they drive a "virtuous circle" of opportunity: to learn, to connect, to create and to make a difference.
The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University has supported the KIN from the beginning, providing both an extraordinary institutional home and, at the same time, independence.
That independence, in turn, has allowed the KIN to transcend the academic categories of faculty, students and alumni, bringing innovators from across a range disciplines into the Northwestern community.
• More from Dean Blount