Communications and Society Program

Roundtable on Institutional Innovation

The Aspen Institute Roundtable on Institutional Innovation, formerly named the Roundtable on Talent Development, is a private seminar of top level executives and thought leaders. The concept behind this roundtable comes from the work of John Hagel and John Seely Brown, co-chairs of the Deloitte Center for the Edge. Its purpose is to engage high level executives, mostly from large organizations, to address (and where appropriate reframe) approaches to institutional performance through innovation. The aim for this series is to develop those and other insights into plans for action.

The 2016 Roundtable will take place July 13-15, 2016 in Aspen, Colorado. This year's topic, The Exponential Shift: Rethinking Organizational Business Models, will examine new ways of thinking about organizational performance. What does a well performing firm or agency look like? How does one measure for those characteristics? What kind of learning is important? A focus will be on revising traditional business models for organizations operating in an environment of rapid fluctuations, disruptive innovations and exponential growth.  

The Roundtable is by invitation only. For more information, please contact Sarah Eppehimer, Project Director, at (202) 736-5818 or at at s​a​r​a​h​.​e​p​p​e​h​i​m​e​r​@​a​s​p​e​n​i​n​s​t​i​t​u​t​e​.​o​r​g​.

2015 Aspen Institute Roundtable on Institutional Innovation participants and Aspen Institute staff. Photo by Dan Bayer.


The Aspen Institute Roundtable on Institutional Innovation took place July 20-22, 2015 in Aspen, Colorado. 

Making the Invisible Visible: Redesigning Business Processes for Exponential Organizations, by Richard Adler, explores how corporate leaders are thinking about exponential business operations—utilizing digital technologies to leverage assets, and scaling learning to accelerate innovation. It delves into strategies of modularization, rapid iteration, and utilizing transparent metrics, among other strategies, all with the aim of becoming more adaptive and increasing the performance of organizations. 

Visit the interactive Institutional Innovation Report w​e​b​s​i​t​e to download a copy of the report.


The 2014 Aspen Institute Roundtable on Institutional Innovation took place July 17-19, 2014 in Aspen, Colorado.

Navigating Continual Disruption, by Richard Adler explores ways to manage organizations in the face of continual disruption - the constant onslaught of new offerings or business models that can challenge the dominance of core businesses.

View the report here.

The 2013 Aspen Institute Roundtable on Institutional Innovation took place July 8-10, 2013 in Aspen Colorado.

Fragmentation and Concentration in the New Digital Environment by Richard Adler explores the impact of digital technology infrastructures on the fragmentation and concentration of economic activity. This report maps the effects of the digital revolution on the business environment, the nature of work and the role of leadership in navigating the organization through the constantly changing landscape.

View the report here.

The 2012 Roundtable, Connecting the Edges, took place in Aspen, Colorado July 29-31, 2012.

Connecting the Edges is the report from the 2012 Roundtable on Institutional Innovation. In the current economic environment, growth and underemployment are two outstanding national, indeed international, problems. While technological advances and globalization are often cited as instigators of the current plight, they are also beacons of hope for the future. The report concludes that by integrating the core of an organization with the edge, where innovation is more likely to happen, we can create dynamic, learning networks.

Download or purchase copies of the report here.


The 2011 Aspen Institute Roundtable on Institutional Innovation took place July 16-18 in Aspen, Colorado. Participants explored various models for operating and innovating, seeking new ways to bring about recurring and productive innovation in an organization.

Institutional Innovation: Oxymoron or Imperative?Institutional Innovation: Oxymoron or Imperative? is the report of the 2011 Roundtable on Institutional Innovation. It explores the consequences of the growing disconnect between the fundamental design of most firms and the capabilities of the business infrastructure in which they operate. The report captures the insights of the participants with a focus on identifying conditions that are favorable to institutional innovation and maximizing the effectiveness of institutional leadership.

Download or purchase copies of the report here.



The second annual Aspen Institute Roundtable on Talent Development took place from July 29-31, 2010. The theme of the Roundtable was "Solving the Dilbert Paradox". The Roundtable addressed how firms and organizations can overcome the Dilbert Paradox, to maximize the innovation and productivity that talent – inside and outside of the organizational walls – can offer. To do this, 20-25 top-level executives and thought leaders explored issues of organizational structure, technology, culture, leadership and policy.

Solving the Dilbert ParadoxSolving the Dilbert Paradox is the volume resulting from the 2010 Aspen Institute Roundtable on Talent Development. This "Dilbert Paradox" finds expression in wasted opportunities for organizational learning, collaboration, and access to knowledge and ideas outside the corporate hierarchy. The report captures the insights of the participants during the conference and details how some large organizations, as well as start-ups and small companies, are experimenting by giving employees new opportunities to maximize innovation.

Download or purchase copies of the report here.


The Inaugural Roundtable on Talent Development took place July 19-21, 2009 in Aspen, Colorado.  It brought together 19 top level executives and thought leaders to discuss how, during a time of diminishing resources, firms and organizations can leverage their assets to increase learning. The report is available here:

Talent ReframedLeveraging the Talent-Driven Organization details how a number of firms are using social networking tools to open up communication, collaboration and learning across boundaries, and leveraging these tools to develop new products and real-time solutions for customers. The report is the result of the Inaugural Roundtable on Talent Development.

Download or purchase copies of the report here.



Talent Reframed Talent Reframed: Moving to the Talent-Driven Firm offers new rules for organizations seeking to attain and develop a talented workforce amid a rapidly changing and increasingly globalized business environment. The report, which sets the premise for a new series of Aspen Institute Roundtables on the Talent Driven Firm, explores how organizations can build talent by relying less on traditional command-and-control structure and more on horizontal collaboration and shared learning. The report, written by Richard Adler, also features a white paper by John Hagel and John Seely Brown.

Download or purchase copies of the report here