Entrepreneurship and civic innovation are growing forces in Chicago
1871– the digital co-working space named after the year of the Great Chicago Fire– is a great example of this. But large, private companies, with their need for confidentiality and security, often have a hard time engaging with these outside forces that depend on openness and free association.
Here on the prairie, fire has long played a role in success. A thoughtful controlled burn– the careful placement of fire– can clear away unhelpful plants, prevent encroachment, and release nutrients for new growth.
We created the ControlledBurn program to help Chicago corporations bring the forces of entrepreneurship and civic innovation to bloom, inside your walls. We help your local developer staff to think like entrapreneurs to help build your business on renewed soil.
Your technology people can get crowded out
Technology-driven innovation can be huge sparks for large companies. The people involved in custom IT application development — developers, architects, and IT ops crews — are fuel for this.
But often these key resources are stuck in the thicket, several layers removed from company leadership and core goals. They can lose sight of what’s important because they can’t see how their work contributes to the whole.
Startups are built this way by default, with fewer levels between IT applications staff and upper management. When everyone understands how the business operates and how their work contributes to meeting those goals, there is a sense of teamwork and shared vision across the field.
The answer is to set fires
ControlledBurn events expose large-company IT applications staff to a small-company/startup way of thinking. There are three components to the program:
- We spend a couple hours in advance of the event to work with your IT leadership to identify the key topics you’d like to cover
- We create a half-day event, held on your premises, with highly technical guest speakers focused on innovation that relates to your company and industry
- Your own internal operations, presented by your staff, is interwoven into the program
Our structure lets you keep internal affairs internal and your key employees onsite. We help them see how their own companies operate, to inspire them to think with a business mindset and to foster teambuilding. This will help them to act as intrapreneurs and improve IT’s contribution to the core business.
This is for your company, and about your company. We won’t bring vendors to sell you something, or external recruiters to poach your people. This is the nature of ControlledBurn— bringing the heat, but making every flame productive for your company.
Who are we and what do we get out of this?
We are the Smart Chicago Collaborative and Q. Ethan McCallum, and we’re passionate about building the Chicago technology innovation infrastructure.
The Smart Chicago Collaborative, a civic organization devoted to improving lives in Chicago through technology, is led by Daniel X. O’Neil. Driving growth and opportunity in the business climate related to science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship is an important part of the work of Smart Chicago, and this is one of the programs that support those efforts.
Q. Ethan McCallum works as a professional-services consultant. He is eager to help businesses improve their standing through practical applications of data and technology. He remembers what it was like to work in a large IT ecosystem, far from the company’s core mission, and he wants to help Chicago companies grow people who feel valued and inspire them to contribute to the whole.
Ready to start the fire?
You’re ready to start the prairie fire in your company? Please let us know.