Is The American Dream Dead?

In describing why business models must change, Kay Plantes pointed out a study that indicates 78% of respondents believed the American Dream has died. This has bothered me all weekend. I believe that most positive change comes from optimists building what they believe is possible. (Have you ever worked with a pessimist trying to build what they believe is impossible? It makes for a long day.) Could it really be that the the U.S. is depending on 22% of the population for that optimism? Maybe that is enough in Ayn Rand’s world , but I like the odds when more folks are on board. So this evening, rather than thinking about how much I enjoyed watching Mr. Burns drink a Coke during the Superbowl, I’m thinking about what is the American Dream. The study by Context-Based Group softens the blow a bit by indicating respondents felt the meaning of 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

When Trails Of Science and Art Cross

What causes burn out? Is it the path to competency? It seems the world is full of paths to follow, many of which leave us isolated from different modes of thought. Different points of view. When your right brain and left brain argue interesting things develop. Was reading October’s copy of Smithsonian while baking in the Community Center sauna, one of the few places I’m still tethered to paper, when I read of a meeting between Margaret Geller, David DeVorkin, Atesh Sonneborn, and Mickey Hart. “So what?” you might ask. Better said, this was a meeting between an astrophysicist, a science historian, an ethnomusicologist, and, wait for it…. a drummer for the Grateful Dead. Ideas from strange places. Ya gotta love them. Ya gotta be open to them. All members of the meeting are at the top of their game, simply different games. Hart, of the Dead, called the meeting. He … Continue reading

Buffalo Bill, Eiffel, Otis and The Keys To Success

Flexible Rigidity. Sometimes you need to bend and sometimes you need to stand firm when driving forward. So what can we learn from Buffalo Bill, Gustave Eiffel and Charles Otis about the balancing act we must perform while being torn between these two opposites? Too flexible at the wrong time and you do something you don’t believe in. Too rigid at the wrong time and you’re simply done. These strategies came to a head among many great leaders negotiating the path to fame and fortune by exhibiting at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris. Everyone who was anyone was at the fair and tempers were flaring. Whistler, (of Whistler’s Mother fame) left the American pavilion with all of his art in tow because he felt arrangements were unacceptable. Edison threw down the gauntlet with his English partner demanding his exhibits be free of charge. Eiffel’s Tower: And the World’s Fair Where … Continue reading

Physics and Ideation: Ways To Unleash Creativity

Confusion about when to praise, when to probe, and when to argue with an idea is killing creativity in business. And the scary thing is some of the most innovative tools being put in place to increase the flow of ideas are just as effective at killing the spirit as in the old days of rapid confrontation. I’ve been thinking about this as I read The Age of Entanglement: When Quantum Physics Was Reborn By Louisa Guilder. Here key ‘conversations’ are reconstructed between some of science’s greatest. You get an inside peek at the way ideas can be had, proposed and defended in a very rigorous mathematical and experimental environment.  What connection is there between defending an idea about quantum physics and a business process? Uncertainty. Now I’m not a scientist, nor do I play one on TV.  But I do have quite a bit of experience shepherding breakthrough ideas … Continue reading