Social systems challenges require social systems solutions. But because our heads explode at the thought of transforming an entire dynamic social system we keep developing point solutions in the hope that our magic bullet of choice (new law, technology, product, service, or even more money), dropped into today’s social systems, is the one right lever to nudge the system to its transformational tipping point. It rarely works. There’s just no controlling for all the independent variables in any complex adaptive system. This explains why ‘evidence-based’ point solutions almost always disappoint when the goal is social systems change. We can’t analyze…


Our obsession with scalability is getting in the way of unleashing the potential of the 21st century. We’re so fixated on scalability we’ve taken our eye off of delivering value at every scale including the most important scale of one. The Industrial Era did that to us. Reaching the mass market takes precedence over delivering value to each customer. New customer acquisition trumps delivering value to existing customers. It’s not only business that is obsessed with scale. Our obsession with scaling a national education, health care, and government system has also taken our eye off of delivering value to each…


I have been thinking a lot about regeneration. While it is common knowledge, it still amazes me, that salamanders can regenerate body parts, including their tails, upper and lower jaws, eyes and hearts. Yet mammals including humans can’t. Salamanders are the highest order of animals capable of regeneration. Do mammals know something that salamanders don’t? Cosmetic surgery, implants, and promising regenerative medicine research aside we humans are stuck with the body parts we are dealt for now.

I wonder if our inability to regenerate at the biological scale also impedes our ability to regenerate at a social system scale. It…


We live in a world screaming for transformation and the best we seem capable of is tweaks. We’re surrounded by leaders and decision makers who share a deeply rooted obsession with scale. An obsession enabled by business models and social norms as straight jackets to keep us in our assigned place aboard the bigger is better bandwagon. Far too often we deflect attention away from the growing number of people harmed and left behind by the one-size-fits-all models, the flywheels of our most important social systems including healthcare, education and the public services we rely on. …


At BIF we design human-centered business models for social impact. It’s an exciting time right now for Team BIF as we scale our first self-initiated design, a personalized maternal wellbeing model we named LunaYou to empower Black and Latina women to improve their own maternal health outcomes. 15+ years since I founded BIF, I’ve never been more inspired and energized. We could never have done it without the BIF network. We could never have done it without networks of networks.

Let me start by coming clean on why I’m obsessed with the idea of networks of networks. It’s personal. I’ve…


(Update: Emerging details since my original post about Tony’s tragic death and battle with mental health and substance abuse are heartbreaking and a clarion call for all of us to pay far more attention to mental health and wellbeing. I double down on the importance of honoring Tony’s life by enabling more random collisions.)

It was beyond sad to learn over the Thanksgiving holiday that we’ve lost an iconic entrepreneur, innovator and friend, Zappos founder Tony Hsieh. He was 46. I haven’t stopped thinking since about Tony’s impact on those of us who had the opportunity to learn from him…


It’s hard not to see another temporary lockdown in our near future. Lockdown seems like the only viable option left to safely bridge to mass vaccination without an unthinkable loss of life. This week’s promising news on the vaccine front is encouraging and hopefully we won’t have to hunker down for long. But hunker down we must.

Here are 10 ways to make it through another lockdown to mass vaccination:

1) Revive our shared springtime mantra and commitment to “flatten the curve”.

2) Accept mask mandates and tighter constraints on gatherings. …


From Tweaks to Transformation During COVID-19

How many times have we heard leaders use the expression ‘burning platform’ in their failed efforts to get us to change? Leaders incessantly call for transformation and the best we seem to be capable of are tweaks to the way our stubborn mindsets, industrial era institutions and social systems work today. All of that has changed overnight as together, we face the mother of all burning platforms, COVID-19. Transformation is our only choice in this crisis.There is no shortage of urgent problems screaming for transformative solutions amidst the COVID-19 crisis. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the breadth and immediacy…


Don’t cancel your event or close up shop because of #COVID19, engage virtually. A growing number of cancelations and closures are already affecting our daily lives. My family had to cancel a personal trip to Japan in April that has been in the works for a year to meet up with our son living in Asia. We all have a personal story to share and the impact from #coronavirus is getting more real with each passing day. Whether we agree or not with the response from our institutional and government leaders, without question we face a global pandemic together, and…


Why do we only do story sharing circles in workshops? What if we shared our real selves and stories with each other every day?

Over the last 14 years, the Business Innovation Factory (BIF), has focused on how to make social system transformation safer and easier to manage. During that time, working on over 70 projects, one consistent learning is that storytelling and engagement are central to transforming any human system. Let’s face it, if we want to transform education, healthcare and public services we must imagine and design new systems with a deep understanding of customer experience and personal…

Saul Kaplan

@TheBIF Founder & Chief Catalyst. Author, The Business Model Innovation Factory

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