Creative Launch Pad | The Little House

Last outpost before the alley, The Little House was a center of creative life (or shall we call it play here, I sometimes can’t distinguish) for me and much of the old neighborhood. It was simply a great place to launch our many adventures. It was a safe place to launch. Funny how lessons from childhood get learned so well you forget there was a time before you knew them. My dad did the building back in 1966 based on a simple plan found in the always inspiring Better Homes and Gardens. A kid size A-Frame with porch, ‘bay’ window, screens and furniture. Even as a youngster I was encouraged to help. I was a great help hammering. (Oh how I hammered. Dad would hand me the hammer and a bit of wood and say “Fred, I need you to hammer.” And I would hammer, hammer, hammer. Quite a bit of … Continue reading

The Increasing Cost Of Bad Behavior On Innovation

The cost of innovation is increasing due to bad behavior. This ran through my mind as I learned that the great bicycle experiment in Paris has hit an expensive traffic bump (NYT 10/30/2009). The idea of being able to rent a bike for an hour or two and drop it off, not where you started but wherever you end up, seemed perfect for our new green and healthy mindset. But as with many ideas that make life better, affordable implementation depends on general ‘good behavior’. Expected behavior has a large impact on how you develop an idea. Dr. Leonard Kleinrock, who was a major force in the development of the internet (Happy Birthday Arpanet), explains in a recent Science Friday interview what he feels was a mistake we are still paying for: “Yes. In fact, in those early days, the culture of the Internet was one of trust, openness, shared … Continue reading

Creativity Is Messy | Creatives Can Be Cranky

In St. Louis I’m told the tradition for trick-or-treaters is to tell a joke before receiving their candy. That sounds fun. Although a while back when I demanded a joke around here things didn’t end well. I was surprised one year when my kids decided the perfect bag for stashing their loot was a king size pillow case. Heavy, but holds up to rain, sleet and snow. Cardboard Creativity in action. Halloween seems to refresh the creative spirit, whether its a cool costume, uncool prank or simply a discussion of how electronic chip implants may replace candy someday soon. Fear is a small part of it. Freedom to experiment is a big part. Which reminds me, did you see Maurice Sendak’s response to the question whether he thought the new “Where the Wild Things Are” movie would be too scary for kids? “Let them wet their pants.” I’ve mentioned that creativity can … Continue reading

Scenario Planning As A Spur To Entreprenurial Thinking

War games, contingency planning, thought experiments all provide potential glimpses into the future that can help distribute knowledge, test reactions and improve flexible thinking. I’m a fan. So it was with some interest I noticed Business Horizons’ recent issue on entrepreneurship included a paper that strongly argues scenario planning not only prepares a corporation for external disruptive events, but it can improve an organization’s overall entrepreneurial capacity. Scenario planning has long been used to prepare for emergency events. Since the 9/11 terror attacks corporate use of scenario and contingency planning increased from 38% to over 70% of executives surveyed, again primarily as a means of preparing for external disruptive (exogenous) shocks. In the article, Beyond risk mitigation: Enhancing corporate innovation with scenario planning, William J. Worthington, Jamie D. Collins and Michael A. Hitt, show that “advanced use of scenario planning can help firms go beyond innovative responses to more complex … Continue reading

Non-Competes, Health Insurance and Other Ugly Limits To Innovation

Limits and creativity run in the same circles. Desire to dig under, work around, leap over and push through is strong motivation to think anew. However, there are limits, that — hmm, — limit. Did you know that a major difference between moribund Detroit and high flyin’ Silicon Valley is the difference in how non-compete agreements are enforced? (Michigan enforces them, California limits them.) In the recent Carnegie Mellon University publication: “Renewing Globalization and Economic Growth in a Post-Crises World – The Future of the G-20 Agenda” Serguey Braguinsky and Steven Klepper write about various ways worker mobility can limit innovation on a regional scale. In addition to visa restrictions, social pressure and lifetime employment guarantees, they use the non-compete as a primary example of the damaging effects of limiting mobility in the United States. I’ve been on both sides of non-compete covenants. I’ve never particularly liked them, but never … Continue reading