Bootstrapping the Future
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Learn how you can Get Involved, and start Bootstrapping Brilliance in your initiative or organization

Networked Community Showcase

Overview 1

The Doug Engelbart Institute is delighted to showcase these networked communities which are practicing most or all of the five accelerators for Bootstrapping Brilliance, or something very close to it. These are excellent case examples of networked improvement communities, or "NICs", a term coined by Doug Engelbart to emphasize the importance of collectively addressing significant challenges and opportunities. Bootstrapping Brilliance serves as a template for networked improvement communities to further advance their mission and scale results. 1a

We are pleased to announce that our case at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), the brainchild of Dr. Gardner Campbell, was profiled in a feature article by the Internet Hall of Fame: Internet Pioneer's Greatest Contribution May Not Be Technological.

Community Spotlight 2

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Virginia Commonwealth University
Bootstrapping Brilliance in the "Thought Vectors" Initiative and cMOOC

[ learn more ]
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Uganda Rural Develop­ment Training Programme (URDT)
Bootstrapping commu­nity development through leadership training for girls

[ learn more ]
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Lemelson-MIT Program
InvenTeams and the Inventor's Pathway

[ learn more ]
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Three Case Examples
What do, nuclear proliferation, and marine biology have in common?

[ learn more ]
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Doug's ARC Lab
Check out our first and most advanced case example from the 1960s

[ learn more ]

Key Takeaways 3

What makes these networked initiatives especially good case studies? Here's what to look for:

  • Cultivating Capability - for each their goal, purpose, mission is expressed as one or more capabilities to cultivate -- e.g. focused inquiry and research (VCU), change-agent leadership (URDT), fostering invention and innovation (L-MIT); they design their services, technologies, and products as enablers of those target capabilities; all are human-centered, with a widely varying mix of tools and human elements.

  • Pushing a Frontier - charting new ground, new paradigm; frontier strategies include pilot expeditions as proving ground and launch pad for iterating results as a whole system, where all the moving parts can be integrated and co-evolved synergistically.

  • Improving how they Improve - continuous improvement on multiple levels, what we call bootstrapping your ABCs: i.e. improving how they design and deliver results, and improving how they are improving; extra leverage when the Capabilities they are cultivating for their end users, align with Capabilities essential for their own internal improvement -- e.g. 'augmenting human intellect' for collective problem solving (ARC), and the rest -- all offer a built-in multiplier effect.

  • Networking Community - recruiting for an expedition, diversity of participants, stakeholders; considering new skills and roles; the archetypal networked improvement community (NIC); scaling from the original network into a network of networks acts as a force multiplier, as you'll readily see in the URDT and L-MIT initiatives.

  • Leveraging Group Smarts - all have put careful thought into facilitating the process, including how they will work together, and integrate, develop and capture their emerging insights, knowledge, and learnings.

Visit Your Bootstrapping Brilliance Toolkit for details.

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) 4

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  Led by Dr. Gardner Campbell, Dean of University College, Associate Professor of English.

Uganda Rural Development Training Programme (URDT) 5

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  Case study prepared by Patricia Seybold, Founder and CEO Patricia Seybold Group, Author: Outside Innovation and The Customer Revolution

Lemelson-MIT Program 6

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  Led by Dr. Stephanie Couch, Executive Director.

Three Case Examples 7

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  Panel discussion moderated by Paul Saffo, Forecaster.

  • Case Examples: What do, nuclear civics, and marine biology have in common? Their approach to tackling global issues – collaborative, networked, iterative, walking their talk, co-evolving, compassionate, continuously improving.
    (1) Erika Gregory, Managing Director of NSquare – "powering a network of innovators committed to ending the nuclear threat through unlikely partnerships, breakthrough ideas, world-changing projects;"
    (2) Ben Rattray, Founder and CEO of – "On, people everywhere are starting campaigns, mobilizing supporters, and working with decision makers to drive solutions;" and,
    (3) Erika Woolsey, Marine Biologist, Ocean Design Teaching Fellow, Stanford University, National Geographic Explorer, Founder of The Hydrous – " an international community of scientists, divers, designers, filmmakers, technologists, educators, and concerned citizens who love the ocean and want to share it to protect it." through expeditions, technology, ocean education.
    Imagine if the visionary leaders of these and other innovative networked initiatives could strategize together about the challenges ahead, strategies, best practices, lessons learned...

  • Watch them in Solving Today's Great Problems? Lessons From Engelbart's Demo @50
    Panel Discussion (60min) "Can Engelbart’s tech­niques for accelera­ting change solve today’s great problems?" Paul Saffo moderates this panel discussion of case examples with Erika Gregory (NSquare), Ben Rattray (, Erika Woolsey (National Geographic Explorer). [see event site]

  • Feature Article: What Would Doug Engelbart Do?” Ask Organizers of a Silicon Valley Event

Doug's historic research lab (ARC) 8

  photo team meeting 1967

  Case study prepared by Christina Engelbart, Executive Director The Doug Engelbart Institute, Instigator: Bootstrapping Brilliance

  • Case Study: Before Doug Engelbart had a research lab, he designed a design strategy for bootstrapping the research in a way that would increasingly yield better, faster results, in a way that would scale. From the beginning he applied this strategy in the inner workings of his own lab, and in a few short years was already yielding results that were truly revolutionary.

  • Watch the Case of Doug Engelbart's legendary laboratory
    Presented in three parts:
    (1) Christina Engelbart presents Bootstrapping Brilliance the Doug Engelbart Way, showcasing how Doug's strategic thinking unfolded, as practiced in his lab, and (@10:20) distills that into the five point strategy for Bootstrapping Brilliance in networked communities;
    (2) Doug and his team demo the enabling technology fully operational by 1968 (6 min); and
    (3) Also in 1968, Doug presents the strategic objectives of his research pursuit at the AHIRC* (3 min.).

  • Watch the Case as Treasure Map
    Chrsistina Engelbart presents Doug's Strategic 'Treasure Map' of strategic principles using Doug'sARC* lab as a case in point (also covered the emergence of his pursuit, and opportunity for the future), at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Mother of All Demos [see event site].

* AHIRC and ARC names for Doug Engelbart's research lab at SRI in the 1960s and 1970s. First was the AHIRC, the Augmented Human Intellect Research Center. Latter was the ARC, variously the Augmentation Research Center, and after end-users came onboard, the Augmentation Resources Center.

More Case Examples 9