Sustainable Business Learning Community Conversations, September 2016 - October 2016

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Sustainability Discussion, September 15, 2016 Topic this week: Innovator’s Heart Last week we started talking about appreciative inquiry. Inquiry is a process, focusing on what works. It’s a mistake to focus on failures, yet much of what goes on in industry is about figuring out who to blame. Problems suck up tons of energy. Going through a bad breakup can make it hard to live life. Malcolm Gladwell gave a recent lecture in Ann Arbor titled, “Innovator’s Heart – Social Context of Entrepreneurship.” He has three or four main ideas for entrepreneurs: 1. Be open to new ideas and creative thinking 2. Be really focused and disciplined about your work 3. Disagreeableness; be perfectly happy to disagree with people if you believe in what you are doing. 4. Also – have a sense of urgency about what you’re doing. Steve Jobs took off with the ideas of computer icons and a user-friendly interface, although others (at Xerox) had looked at these ideas previously. A sense of urgency made all the difference. Similarly, a doctor made great progress in curing childhood leukemia by combing cancer drugs. Now drug combinations are normal treatments, but the idea was revolutionary at the time. Is there an evil side to innovation? The innovation should be based on truth and should help people and society. Just making lots of money for the entrepreneur can be a bad goal. If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to get there, go in community. People tend to resist change – but the world is always changing. Some people find change very stressful and resist change. There’s a vacant church in my neighborhood with a park nearby. There is a plan to turn the church into a coffee shop and also to re-do the park, which has historic significance. These ideas seem great to me – but lots of neighbors like the status quo and are resisting change. Change is constant – the real challenge is to be constantly learning. In the past women needed to leave out the feminine parts of themselves to succeed in the workplace. Women are socialized to want approval and not be contrary. Women in leadership need to shift that and find ways to need less approval. Corporations seem to want everyone to compete in masculine ways. People need to be truly who they are. Sometimes a woman needs to be comfortable just being a woman. You can be feminine and still speak with authority. As a teacher I make a point to let females know that their voice really matters. It can be important to stand up to a bully in the group. Innovation means taking risks. People can try out a business and wind up losing their life savings. Some business ideas just won’t work out in a particular place and time. In theater we teach students to take sensible risks – don’t endanger life. For example, method acting, as taught by Lee Strasbourg, has been linked to several suicides (including Heath Leger). It’s possible to take yourself to a dark place that some have not been able to pull out of. Another approach to acting comes from Constantin Stanislowsky who said, “I am not a wizard – I’m an actor.” When staging a fight scene, it looks like person A throws person B to the ground, but actually person B throws himself to the ground. The actor needs to stay grounded in their true identity and learn how to act a part. When you start a business you have a choice. You can grow the business or you can be the business. Two different paths. If you grow the business, you train others and create a structure that eventually you can step away from, and the business still works. If you decide to be the business, you assemble what you need to support your work but you remain central to the business. If you are no longer able to work for some reason, the business flounders.


Sustainable Business Conversation, October 12, 2016 Open Topic Day

Separation of your work life and your private life: As Kimberly describes it: "Owning a business vs. a business owning you."