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Building the Future: Big Teaming for Audacious Innovation

Living PlanIT is honored to announce the upcoming publication of a multi-year case study led by Amy Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School, and chronicled through the unique writing style of Susan Salter Reynolds, former Los Angeles Times features writer and columnist.

Over the past 6 years, Living PlanIT has given intimate company access to a team of professors and researchers of Harvard Business School in order to inform and develop curricula of the university especially around areas of market innovation and new business models. Harvard joined Living PlanIT in our offices to observe our culture, operations, and partner collaboration style in addition to accompanying our executives to key commercial meetings.

Here are some conclusions from Harvard’s extensive research project:

“Machiavelli famously wrote, “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”

That’s what this book is about–innovation far more audacious than a new way to find a restaurant or a smart phone you can wear on your wrist. Amy Edmondson and Susan Salter Reynolds explore large-scale systemic innovation that calls for “big teaming”– intense collaboration between professions and industries with completely different mindsets. This demands leadership combining an expansive vision with deliberative incremental action–not an easy balance.

To explore the kind of leadership required to build the future we need, Edmondson and Reynolds tell the story of Living PlanIT. This award-winning “smart city” start-up was launched with a breathtakingly ambitious goal: creating a showcase high-tech city from scratch to pilot its software–quite literally setting out to build the future. This meant a joint effort spanning a truly disparate group of software entrepreneurs, real estate developers, city government officials, architects, construction companies, and technology corporations. By taking a close look at the work, norms, and values in each of these professional domains, we gain new insight into why teaming across fields is so challenging. And we get to know Living PlanIT’s leaders, following them and their partners through cycles of hope, exhaustion, disillusionment, pragmatism, and renewal. There are powerful lessons here for anyone, in any industry, seeking to drive audacious innovation.”


Building the Future provides a rare inside look at how a start-up company takes on the world and copes with numerous challenges along the way. Go it alone or partner? Keep the bold goal or go for small wins? Seize other opportunities in technology or stick with the smart cities plan? Edmondson and Reynolds present thought-provoking lessons for those who want to dream big and need big teaming to get the work done.”
–Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School professor and best-selling author of Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End and MOVE: Putting America’s Infrastructure Back in the Lead

“This unique book by a brilliant researcher and a veteran journalist not only illuminates the problems of large scale innovation for a sustainable future but, in the process, teaches us about industry cultures, leadership, and the massive problems of collaboration in an increasingly complex multicultural world.”
–Edgar Schein, Professor Emeritus, MIT Sloan School of Management and author of Helping, Humble Inquiry, and Humble Consulting.“

“Given rush hour and all the many other failures produced by urban evolution, one has to feel that planning and engineering better cities is at the very least an effort worth attempting. This book exhaustively researched and written with unusual clarity – constitutes a map of the impediments and possibilities. It is also a fascinating case study of technological adventure.”
–Tracy Kidder, author of The Soul of a New Machine, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award

“As the urbanization of the planet gathers pace and governments grapple with the fateful consequences, can technology support a better future for our cities? Building the Future follows a small start-up business that believes it can and examines the leadership demands of ambition on this scale.”
–Andrew Comer, Partner and Director of the Cities Group, BuroHappold Engineering

“This book provides an entirely new way of looking at how teaming can – and will – help us create a new world!”
–Marshall Goldsmith, Thinkers 50 #1 Leadership Thinker in the World and New York Times bestselling author of What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, MOJO and Triggers

Building the Future just may be one of the most important innovation books ever written. It explores how to build and spread a bold vision of the future – how to turn an audacious innovation into reality by bringing together people with different skills and beliefs (even if they have ignored or despised each other in the past). And, best of all, Edmondson and Reynolds offer a way forward for how tenacious leaders and teams can use small actions to slowly build big bold innovations–including better companies, industries, and cities.”
–Robert Sutton, Stanford Professor and coauthor of Scaling Up Excellence

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About Living PlanIT

Living PlanIT is a technology company that created the world’s first Urban Operating System (UOS) which, in combination with the products it supports, unlocks the full potential of data to make cities better, safer and more vibrant places to live.

Living PlanIT has built an extensive partner network around the concept of a shared, unified approach to smart urban technology architecture in which machine intelligence moves ever closer to originating sources of data and control. We call this architecture PlanIT Edgeless Computing™ and it is implemented throughout the PlanIT Urban Operating System™, providing a framework for resilient and secure computer and systems architecture for digital and biological sensing, control, analytics, machine learning, applications and visualization techniques.

Living PlanIT asserts its rights to the following Trademarks: Living PlanIT™, PlanIT Edgeless Computing™, Edgeless Computing™, PlanIT Urban Operating System™, PlanIT UOS™, PlanIT OS™, PlanIT Crumbs™, PlanIT PlaceApps™, PlanIT Valley™, PlanIT Assurance™, PlanIT Labs™, PlanIT Retail™, PlanIT Life™. Any reference to these names in this content shall be considered as an assertion of these Trademarks. or follow us on Twitter @Living_PlanIT

About the Authors

Amy C. Edmondson is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School. She is the author of Teaming to Innovate, Teaming, and A Fuller Explanation, along with over seventy articles on leadership, teams, innovation, and organizational learning. She has received many awards, including the Accenture Award for significant contribution to improving the practice of management.

Susan Salter Reynolds is a former Los Angeles Times features writer and columnist. For twenty-three years, she covered thought leaders, cultural trends, and controversial issues and continues to write for a variety of magazines and newspapers, including the Daily Beast, Newsday, Los Angeles Magazine, and others.

About Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School is the graduate business school of Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. The school offers a large full-time MBA program, doctoral programs, HBX and many executive education programs. It owns Harvard Business School Publishing, which publishes business books, leadership articles, online management tools for corporate learning, case studies, and the monthly Harvard Business Review.

Where to find the book

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Amazon AU, Amazon DE, Amazon ES, Amazon FR, Amazon IN, Amazon IT, Amazon JP, Amazon MX, Amazon RU, Amazon UK