Home News & Stories Melton Foundation at MIT Panel: Collaborative Innovation Networks

Melton Foundation at MIT Panel: Collaborative Innovation Networks

Why do networks matter, and how can we best harness their power to solve today’s global challenges?

This question was at the center of a panel discussion held at the 2015 edition of the MIT Scaling Development Ventures event last April. Melton Foundation executive director Winthrop Carty was one of the panelists at the event, together with Sean Hewens, program director of IDEO.org’s Amplify; and Amit Mistry, program officer for USAID’s Higher Education Solutions Network.

“We know that the global challenges that we face — climate, pandemics, getting people out of poverty — are inherently extremely complex, global in nature, and interconnected,” Winthrop said.  “The traditional still prevalent silos — whether institutional, jurisdictional, disciplinary, or geographic — cannot address these problems alone. We must develop the capability to collaborate across all these boundaries in order to address these challenges.”

The only way that we are going to tackle the global challenges of this century is if we get networks right and we start to implement them on a massive scale.”  — Winthrop Carty

Winthrop also discussed the challenges that can affect the networks’ impact. “You don’t have the same hierarchy of control in a network — which is both a strength and a weakness. You’re empowering others, you’re more a facilitator and enabler than an implementer. At the same time, you really do depend on the leadership in the network for exciting and valuable things to happen. Networks have ebbs and flows. You sometimes have shifts in leadership, and then you may have a sustainability problem. How do you bridge those  gaps in networks?”

The Melton foundation is a partner of MIT’s D-Lab, one of the event’s co-sponsors. Read the panel’s full report here.