Founder Dropouts. A case for Innovation Leadership.

Lets face it many gifted, creative, exceptional people generally have issues with authority.  The act of innovation, generally requires one to take a stance that rejects the way things are, in favor of the way things could be. Do you see this pattern in yourself? Many of our greatest founders are dropouts. In a conversation, I had with Craig Venter the father of the Human Genome Project, he told me he had to quit working for the NIH ,where he was unable to get adequate support for the project to proceed and was forced to become an entrepreneur. I asked him if great change or breakthroughs ever came from within giant organizations, and he said something like “Never, you have to drop out of the mainstream to make anything big happen”. He was of course spectacularly successful and listed on Time magazine’s 2007 and 2008 Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world. In 2010, the British magazine New Statesman listed Craig Venter at 14th in the list of The World’s 50 Most Influential Figures 2010.

We all know stories like this including Apple, Google and FaceBook to name a few of the smaller companies on the planet. Of course there are probably 10,000 failures for each of these successes. Dropping out is certainly no guarantee of getting anywhere and usually does not. But if you have a great idea, perform due diligence to reality test it, use your critical thinking skills and work hard to accumulate enough evidence that you may be right while the rest of the world may be wrong, you eventually have to go for it even in the face of hidden pitfalls.

Here is one of them. Innovation has become a buzzword mantra in spite of most professional business people trying to eliminate risk as they are duty bound to pursue. A logical stance is “well we have to mange these people and this situation”. As the founder chairman of SVII for ten years I have been asked, initially to my amazement, hundreds of times “what is the algorithm for innovation?” Managing innovation is incredibly difficult because managing innovators is pretty much impossible.  In the case of incremental, it can be done but in disruptive innovation where juicy exciting projects live, it is somewhat oxymoronic.

On the other hand, another word for some of us who are regarded as unmanageable, and that word is leader. It may be a mostly impossible dream to manage breakthrough innovation, but at times the person with insight, also has both enough passion and enough discipline to lead it. Lets face it, one person size dreams may work well for some of the creative community, including artists, musicians, writers and coders of computer applications as well. After we hit it out of the park successfully manifesting our one person size dream, our dreams tend to grow larger and soon we realize we need help, a lot of help. Then because we may have had a hard time accepting authority, we may be reluctant to wield it to the dismay of the people who are trying to follow us.

Leadership is a service profession. You have to take care of all of your stakeholders including your followers. The bigger the dream, the more you generally need help. Sorry, you do not have a choice, as soon as you have a terrific insight that is going to require significant help, you are going to have to lead.

Being an innovation leader is extremely rewarding, as well as extremely frustrating, because you know what was said earlier about gifted, creative, exceptional people who generally have issues with authority. However you have a secret weapon, you are them! You know what they need and how they need to be treated. There is no one more qualified to lead innovation, than an innovator. And this is when the dropout becomes a drop-in.

FEB 5th 2014: Real, Long-Term, Value-Added Innovation through Social Architecture

All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they get. Innovative organizations have social architecture designed to promote and support innovation.

In this discussion the relationship between social structure and innovative success is explored.

This February 5th SVII gathering is special – During dinner Founder and Chairman Howard Lieberman will be reporting on CES, reflecting on the state of innovation and the implications of the new technologies. The evening’s panel will take the game of innovation to a new level of purpose and contribution as four social architects share their insights on enabling organizations to multiply their ‘true-value-adding innovation’ – innovation that makes lasting, positive contributions to all impacted. Our panel will address two questions:

a)    What organizational design elements best support growing a culture of ‘true value-adding innovation?’

b)    How might existing organizations best go about growing such a culture?

Who should attend? The February 5th SVII gathering is intended for those organizational leaders, changemakers and practitioners who are intrigued with the possibility of multiplying their organization’s capacity to innovate — both in their products and services and in their social architecture.

This event will take place at 7PM at:

Hangen Szechuan Restaurant (2nd Fl), 134 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

Dinner will be served!

Pre-Registration Tickets ($20)  – On SALE NOW!


Co-founder & Senior Evolutionary Architect
Monterey Institute for Social Architecture &

Email:  Phone: 831-462-1992

Bill is a senior social architect with extensive experience in the fields of organization design, learning and change. A pioneer in organic action-learning approaches to leadership development, he has designed and led numerous generative leadership learning expeditions. Bill’s professional background includes over 35 years of experience in leading innovative organization design and large-scale change implementations in the United States, Canada, Europe and the Far East, both as an internal at Exxon and later as an external consultant. Bill’s deep commitment is to the transformation of our social systems throughout our planet (education, health care, commerce, governance, media, etc.), in a way that best serves all life — for all time. His recent focus has been on helping corporations grow their system-wide capacities for distributed leadership, collaborative innovation, rapid learning and change.


Co-founder & Social Architect


Max is a social architect and organizational innovator with extensive corporate experience in management, product development, and organization development and change. During his career at Snapfish and later HP, Max successfully led several large-scale, division-wide change initiatives focusing on business transformation and innovative organization design. In 2009, after completing an advanced degree in Organization Development at Pepperdine University, Max chose to dedicate himself to his deep passion for social architecture and generative organization design, which he considers his life’s work. In 2011, together with Bill Veltrop, he co-founded GlobalGEA and has since been co-developing highly generative, innovative approaches to organization learning and transformation.

Social architect
Monterey Institute for Social Architecture


Peter is a senior social architect with extensive experience in organizational design, organizational development, executive development/coaching, and strategic change management. Peter’s professional background includes over 33 years of experience in strategic change work, innovative organizational design, cultural transformation and executive development and coaching. Peter spent 25 year as an internal consultant/director at Hewlett Packard and Lockheed-Martin, and 8+ years as an independent consultant serving both profit and not for profit organizations. Peter has deep knowledge in high tech, manufacturing, education and most recently health care. In communities, he has worked at the intersection of local government, non-profits and educational institutions to improve and transform the systems and coordination between agencies to better serve their constituents. Peter is a co-founder of MISA, and has affiliations with The Piras Group and Sapience Networks (website currently not available).


Founder, Spring Networks

Stu Winby is Founder of Spring Networks, an organization strategy and design firm and also Managing Partner of Innovation Point, a strategic innovation firm – both headquartered in the Silicon Valley. His focus over the last decade has been in healthcare and technology, working at the CEO, state and national level in healthcare innovation and transformation. His interests are in the design of dynamic networks as continuous innovation and productivity sources of advantage, and the management of innovation.




NOV 6th 2013: Accelerating Large Enterprise Innovation

Innovation on a large scale is a difficult task to approach, even more so when dealing with numerous people all of whom have the power to make important decisions. How is one to go about approaching this task. Is there a way to move forward quicker than a snail’s pace?

Innovation is extremely challenging when large numbers of decision makers in a well defined hierarchical chains of command are involved. Yet some multi-national multi-billion dollar companies routinely do just this, resulting in their persisting as world leaders in their respective markets. The principles behind these innovation cultures that permit and encourage the special behaviors required of both innovators and innovation advocates can be adopted by any size enterprises wishing to accelerate their innovation. Lets face it even if leaders can not agree on a definition of innovation, it does not stop them from declaring it to be a very high priority! Nor from desiring to accelerate it (whatever it is). Even if people do not know what it is, they know they want it and that is a totally reasonable stance.

This event will take place at 7PM at:

Hangen Szechuan Restaurant (2nd Fl), 134 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

Dinner will be served!

Pre-Registration Tickets ($20)  – on SALE NOW!


Chairman, Senior Science and Technology Advisor 
SVII, DARPA, Apple Inc, Bose Corporation
After completing university programs in both Physics and Electrical Engineering, Howard spent fifteen years working for two large technology companies, Bose and Apple where he shipped more than a billion dollars of innovative products while taking Bose from analog to digital and Apple from computers into sound.He then spent a decade as a serial entrepreneur and a college dean and this last decade he has been applying these experiences as an innovator, innovation manager and innovation educator by founding and running the Silicon Valley Innovation Institute where he often finds himself functioning as an innovation articulator. He has also been an advanced technology procurement consultant to the US Air Force and is currently a Senior Science and Technology Advisor to DARPA, He is also active as a composer and performing jazz musician.

Mechanical Design Engineer, Thermal Systems
Tesla Motors
Bremer is currently working as a Mechanical Design Engineer at Tesla Motors. Curiosity has always driven him. After finishing his undergrad at Western Washington University in plastics and vehicle engineering he quit his job and dedicated himself to the WWU X-Prize Team.  The WWU X Prize team built a carbon fiber, monocoque hybrid super mileage car, from the ground up.  He was personally responsible for in car computer, interior and exterior LED lighting, display system, software integration, and the auto centering windshield wiper. Viking-45(WWU X Prize car) ranked 6th out of 121 competitors achieving an average of 112MPGe. Directly after the X Prize competition he was hired onto the Prototype Vehicle Group at  Tesla Motors. He spent a year developing the Toyota Rav4 EV and Tesla Model S prototypes. As the Model S left the prototype phase Bremer moved to the Vehicle Engineering Thermal Systems Team where he played an active role in the rapidly evolving company supporting manufacturing, quality and service along with his Thermal Team responsibilities.

When the surfing is bad, Bremer spends most of his free time playing with LEDs, flying his drone, and riding around his electric skateboard, if he’s not getting arrested trying to change laws. Battle for the beach, Projects and resume:

Inventor, Audio Engineer, Consultant
Hewlett-Packard/Palm, Plantronics, Gibson Guitar, Bose Corporation 
Osman Isvan has been an acoustics and audio professional for over 30 years. After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree from the Istanbul Technical University in Turkey, Osman moved to the United States at the age of 25, and earned a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Tufts University, specializing in vibrations and acoustics. He then joined Bose Corporation as a Research Engineer, where he developed loudspeaker simulation software, designed acoustic transducers and enclosures, and built a novel laser-Doppler vibration analysis system for the characterization of loudspeaker and headphone diaphragms and materials. In 1998 Osman joined Gibson Guitar Corporation in Nashville. The following year he invented and prototyped a multi- axis pickup for the company’s first guitar with digital audio interface, developed in partnership with the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT) at the University of California at Berkeley. Osman then moved to California as an acoustics engineer for Plantronics, where he developed wired and wireless headsets and stereo headphones, before joining Palm / Hewlett Packard as Lead Audio Systems Engineer responsible for acoustic systems and audio parameter optimization of smart phones. Since 2011 Osman became an Engineering Consultant, serving clients in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Osman Isvan authored technical papers on audio signal processing, vibration damping, guitar pickups, the effect of winds on bicycles, and power optimization for Light Electric Vehicles. He is an inventor with 9 patents on loudspeakers, guitar pickups, noise reduction, echo cancellation, microphones, earphones and headsets. Recently he became interested in data integration and performance analysis for cyclists. He wants to develop a bicycle speedometer that measures wind velocity.

Senior Electro-Acoustic Engineer
Materion Corporation, ZT Amplifiers Inc., Transonos , Tymphany 
Born and raised in New England, Peter has called Northern California home for the past 8 years. An avid multi-instrumentalist, you might trip over any number of musical items on your way into his home. An early love of music & science culminated in degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Music Performance and Acoustical Engineering, studying under and assisting Dr. Amar Bose. During the ensuing 25 years, Peter has realized successful products for many professional and consumer sound brands, both in employee and consultant roles. From high-performance automotive and home entertainment speakers to acoustically calibrated screening rooms, from custom test & measurement software to telecomm peripherals, from guitar amplifiers to digital signal processors, Peter’s work has spanned nearly the entire electro-acoustics space. Patented inventions were shipped by brands like Boston Acoustics and Tymphany for many years.
After a few years abroad in Asia and Europe, Peter has developed a global perspective on the audio industry, leading multi-cultural and intercontinental teams to successful innovations and product launches. He now works for Materion Electrofusion designing ultra-high-performance beryllium diaphragms for professional loudspeakers. Peter jointly published an AES paper with Marshall Buck and others detailing improvements to large-format compression drivers, also presenting this work at ALMA International Symposia. He has recently accepted a nomination to ALMA International’s Board of Directors, and is excited to be co-chairing ALMA’s Winter Symposium.
Electrical Engineer
Linkwitz Lab, Hewlett-Packard

Born and raised in Germany, Siegfried Linkwitz came to California with his wife in 1961 for a two year experience in R&D of Hewlett-Packard’s Microwave Division. Siegfried had received the Diplom Ingenieur degree in Electrical Engineering from Darmstadt Technical University in Germany. He continued his education with postgraduate studies at Stanford University while working. His initial stay turned into 37 years of R&D at HP, on state-of-the-art electronic test equipment, such as microwave spectrum analyzers, network analyzers and EMI receivers.

He also traveled to Europe and Asia, teaching HP Seminars on test and measurement in the frequency range from 10 kHz to 20 GHz. During his last 18 years at HP he participated in leading roles in national and international standards development for Electromagnetic Compatibility Test Instrumentation through ANSI and IEC/CISPR 16. After retirement in 1998 from HP, now Agilent, in Santa Rosa, Siegfried continued to pursue a life-long interest in audio that started when he came to HP. There he and his colleagues designed and built their personal Hi-Fi systems, from the phono pre-preamp to the power amplifier and FM stereo tuner. Loudspeaker design followed, because commercial products seemed strangely designed to a microwave engineer.  The “Linkwitz Transform” circuit and earlier, in 1975, the “Linkwitz-Riley Crossover” filters were a necessity for his active speaker designs and came out of a shared audio hobby with Russ Riley. Between 1994 and 1999 he developed a line of open-baffle loudspeakers with moving coil drive units for Audio Artistry.

In 1999 he set up a website to share what he had learned about speaker design and to give a practical example, the PHOENIX. The site has grown significantly. ORION, PLUTO and LX521 loudspeakers have been added as new insights had been gained. He provides plans for DIY construction of state-of-the-art dipole and monopole loudspeakers using active electronics. The speakers are optimized for operation in reverberant domestic spaces. He believes to have found the ideal loudspeaker concept for creating a convincing auditory illusion of an acoustic event in a typical size living room.  The job is done.

Deloitte Consulting
Cody is a born entrepreneur.  He is deeply passionate about helping organizations find new frontiers in their overall culture,retain top talent and create healthier workplaces.   He is relentlessly curious and has a genuine love for exploring the world’s perspectives by getting to know new people.

After obtaining his masters, he began consulting work for Deloitte.  He spent the first two years of his career traveling around the world helping clients understand better their risk of licensing intellectual property to the global marketplace.  He considers this international growth experience to have altered his life in an extremely positive and open-minded way.  He went on to spend 2 years at Deloitte Consulting in their Strategy & Operations practice where he helped executives of a Fortune 50 client spin-off half their business.
Cody is also an avid marathon runner and has competed in over 15 races around the world. His passion for running extends past participation as he has founded and organized a road race for charity.

Leading, Managing and Motivating Creativity in the Workplace: What CEOs want, need and say

What is the best way to keep ideas coming? Join us as we discuss this topic and how the workplace can improve to foster ideas.

ArLyne Diamond, PhD

Program Description:

Dr. ArLyne Diamond ( will share what she’s learned from her extensive interviews with 50 Silicon Valley C-level executives. Synthesizing the best from these discussions and informed by her own background in business, psychology, management and law, ArLyne has developed programs for helping good ideas “bubble up”.

As part of her presentation, ArLyne will lead us in a stimulating and interactive dialogue.