The 2400 Year Old Problem

I love my excursions down to Indiana University. I’m always pleasantly surprised by the level of creativity, passion and dedication that survives (and perhaps thrives) after years of schooling. (Disclosure: This be a proud papa moment…) This weekend my daughter’s adaptation of  Aristophanes’ “The Wasps” hit the streets and it struck me how familiar the problems of our ancient greek cousins were. Having spent the past four years studying ancient history and theater, that was Sarah K Schlegel’s point of course and her goal in producing the play for a modern audience. We know we should learn from the past, but, oh so often, it seems so far away. Turns out Aristophanes felt he lived in a very litigious society. Sound familiar? So much so that he said lawyers had become like wasps, stinging with suits at every opportunity and swarming from victim to victim without serious care as to the … Continue reading

Being and Entrepreneurship

“Organizations tend to evolve in ways that are inherently resistant to entrepreneurship. Yet Entrepreneurship is instrumental for ensuring the long-term sustainability of any enterprise.” (Properties of balance: A pendulum effect in corporate entrepreneurship, Michael H. Morris, Jurie van Vuuren, Jeffrey R. Cornwall, Retha Scheepers) Whether you call it corporate entrepreneurship or individual creativity, it is difficult to drive behavior that challenges the status quo, questions existing procedures, or increases personal risk. “More fundamentally, fostering corporate entrepreneurship becomes problematic if company executives do not know what they are trying to achieve.” (Morris, et al) Finding balance in large organizations is difficult at best. The larger the group the further removed any single individual is from the source of cash flow, from the feel of customers, from the pulse of technological change. (You know, the smell of the sawdust, the feel of the earth type stuff.) The meaningfulness of any individual change … Continue reading

The Power Of “What Can I Do?” and Puppies Behind Bars

“Puppies Behind Bars started dog tags when I, just as a private citizen, would read the paper every day and just hear about the number of our men and women who were getting wounded. And I said, what can I do? I’m sitting here in my comfort of New York and they’re in Iraq and Afghanistan, what can I do?” -Gloria Gilbert Stoga on Fresh Air August 12, 2009 Innovation starts and stops on the personal level. There are many things society, organizations, friends, strangers, business, and random acts of kindness can do to encourage innovation. But in the end it takes individuals who want to make a difference. What Can I Do? Is such a powerful statement. It has to rival the power of Why? In the lexicon of innovation that happens. Puppies Behind Bars has been in the news a lot lately, and it’s been a growing organization … Continue reading

Design By Committee.

A good friend pointed this sign out to me the other day and I had to laugh. Looks like your typical, run of the mill parking sign designed to protect precious slots for diners at Andy’s Deli, a popular spot on the NW side. Perfectly normal, and yet… 35 minute parking? I’ve seen 10, 15, 30, 45… but 35? I get the feeling there is a committee at work here. And that they thought very hard about this sign. Parking is a critical retail element that can make or break a business, so I’m glad they thought about it. Creativity is messy when it comes to collaborative projects. There are committees, layers of approval, regulations, stakeholders. Run well with inspiration collaboration can take us beyond ourselves, creating something no single individual could have come up with alone. Run poorly and, well, you’ve probably already run into that so no need … Continue reading