Interview with Enrique Dans

Professor of Innovation at IE Business School, Spain

Enrique Dans
Feb 18 · 6 min read
Enrique Dans

Who are you?

I’m a professor. I’ve been a professor of innovation at for the last 30 years, and I’m deeply in love with what I do. Lately, I’m also walking the talk, hacking education as Senior Advisor for Innovation at , and having a lot of fun while trying to do so!

I was born in 1965 in the northwestern corner of Spain, in La Coruña, I lived there until my twenties, and I still go back there every summer. I started teaching in 1990, and except for the four years I spent in California . I also taught a few courses at UCLA. I’ve been teaching my whole life.

Besides teaching at IE as a full professor and also as a visiting professor at the in Spain and , I like to write about technology and innovation, basically to force myself to read and to stay updated about what happens in the innovation and technology field, so that my students realize that their professor is well updated and documented.

I’m always struggling to use current cases, examples, and ideas in my classes, and my students love it that way. I started my page in February 2003; I realized it was good for my classes, and I haven’t stopped since.

I write something every single day. Every. Single. Day, no matter whether I’m on vacation, whether it rains, or storms, or if I’m lost in a deserted island. If I don’t update my page any day, some of my followers would probably call the police!

Why write on Medium? was launched when I started translating the articles I was writing on my page in Spanish, and it was being launched by Evan Williams, who is a person I deeply admire. Back in 2003, I started blogging on Blogger, from Pyra Labs, the first company launched by Ev, and my first public post was precisely the day that it announced the Google purchase. I could say that blogging changed my life!

A few years later, Ev moved on and Co-founded Twitter: I started early on Twitter, and I quickly amassed a significant number of followers. So again, he redefined certain parts of my life and my relationship with social media.

Then he founded Medium, and by then, I had already decided that whatever Ev created, I’d immediately try it or if he jumps off a cliff, I’d jump too! :)

So I opened my account on Medium right away, and I started publishing my articles in English here.

When I started writing on Medium, I was already very well known as a tech writer in Spanish, but few people knew me in the English-speaking world. For me, it didn’t make much sense to add a section “In English” to my page, I thought publishing on Medium would be a much better choice in terms of visibility. And it was!

What are your writing interests?

I relate my research interests to the effects of technology in three different levels of analysis: individual, corporate, and society. I love to study the dynamics of technology adoption, the impact these trends have on business models, or how our societies change when we reach a wide or generalized adoption of a particular technology.

What happens, for instance, when we suddenly realize that some technologies that brought us here, such as fossil fuels and the internal combustion engine, are now obsolete, and we need to substitute them if we want to survive on this planet? Even though I consider myself a technologist, I majored in Biology in my university years, and I’m apprehensive about the climate emergency and the changes we desperately need to introduce in the economy — as fast as possible! — to make this civilization sustainable.

I’m also fascinated by long-term visions in technology, which is why I often write about companies such as Tesla, Uber, Amazon, or Netflix, among others, and by the much-needed reformulation of capitalism to make it viable and sustainable.

Can you share a highlight of your life?

I enjoy what I do; I feel fortunate to have a professional life that comprises doing things I love, and I feel passionate about it. But the highlights of my life are not professional.

I am married to the same woman I met, believe it or not when she was in the crib and I was five years old, and I know this will sound cheesy, but most of the highlights of my life have her playing the starring role.

Or when my daughter, Claudia, was born, that was one amazing moment as well that felt incredible and unrepeatable. Still, again, my wife was there and playing a very significant role! All these are the moments I truly treasure in my mental photo album.

Share a few of your article links with us?

I’m proud of the following article on Tesla, the first article that a Medium editor asked me to edit. The result truly improved the original article: it read much better, and it was a phenomenal success.

The following article about Greta Thunberg, written in a moment of rage after reading a few lousy articles about her, has a different tone, not precisely “academic,” but makes me feel well when I re-read it, even after all the controversies it generated.

Also, the following article about fossil fuels, which as the previous one, was not previously published on Forbes (probably not the type of article the average Forbes reader appreciates, although I’ve also been controversial with this topic in their pages too and they are open-minded!) makes me feel that having Forbes, a place where I can publish anything I want, is a real blessing.

Do you write anywhere else?

I have been since 2014, and in fact, I republish here many of the articles I write there since they allow me to do so after just five days from the original publication.

I also often talk to journalists in Spanish and international media about technology and innovation whenever they call me, sometimes to request a full article, other times to quote my opinion.

Besides that, I write every day in my page in Spanish, , and some of my articles get republished in other places, since most of what I write, including my books, are published with a Creative Commons Attribution license. I’m a big fan of copyleft!!

Any big plans for 2020?

I’ve been busy working on the English edition of my latest book, “Viviendo en el Futuro.”

Hopefully, it will soon be published as “Living in the Future.”

Besides that, I’m trying to spend a sabbatical in a machine learning company, , doing everything as if I were an intern, to learn the underpinnings of a technology that I genuinely think is changing the world.

Can you recommend other Medium authors?

I try to read whatever the big boss Ev Williams writes, no matter the topic, but saying this here sounds like brown-nosing! :-) I also love danah boyd’s articles, and I find people such umair haque, and Jean-Louis Gassée extremely thought-provoking.

Photo by Susana Alosete

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Enrique Dans

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Professor of Innovation at IE Business School and blogger at

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