Inspirational

    Retro Motorcycles Signal Innovation In Goshen, IN

    Manufacturing in America — Using the Past to Create an Innovative Future

    It’s heartening to learn about a small USA manufacturer who’s doing something creative, new, and interehalcyon-product2sting.

    Janus Motorcycles in Goshen, Indiana is creating hand-crafted, small batch motorcycles. These are simple, accessible, easy-to-work-with bikes. They are throwbacks in a certain way, but don’t get me wrong they’re elegant. The retro-ish designs are informed by old American bike brands like Indian, and old British bikes like Triumph and Norton. It’s not hard to imagine that famous Hoosier, James Dean, riding one of these bikes around the countryside.

    The bikes look like James Dean era rides because Janus purposefully leaves the bikes open, in the sense that all the parts can be seen, and of course, worked with. This is counter to the trend of car and motorcycle manufacturers that discourage amateurs working with their products by covering parts with hoods and hard-to-break-into enclosures. Love that aspect of this story — how do you encourage makers if you can’t play with, fool around with, tinker with, products?

    I love this story for a number of reasons beyond the open design.

    First of all, it’s a young group of guys who put this together. Honest-to-God thirty-something entrepreneurs who are building something with love and passion. Next, they’re American and making something almost entirely in Northern, Indiana. Not just assembly, but design, parts — nearly everything (they do source a motor from overseas… if only somebody would come along and provide an American made motor Janus would be 100% American made!)

    Then there’s the Amish connection.

    Goshen, Indiana, which for those of you who read this around the country is something like Andy Griffith’s Mayberry, but without the southern accents. It’s the country, it’s corn, soybeans, orchards, and Blake Shelton on the radio country. That said, Goshen is not far from Elkhart where a lot of fancy RV products are made, so, yes, there is manufacturing in this countryside. The Studebaker was once made in South Bend, as was the Avanti, not far from Goshen, but those companies are long gone. Goshen is in the heart of Amish country. As Janus was getting started, Amish craftsman helped them figure out how to make some of the bits and pieces necessary to assemble these motorcycles. Little known fact but the Amish are incredible “makers” who know how to work with metal and sophisticated tools. The “maker movement” is not just for hipsters in urban areas!

    The business grew out of the co-founders love for mopeds and small bikes. They knew that market well. They started making custom bikes together and found a synergy in the way they think and create. One a creative out-of-the-box approach, the other a respect for design and a hard won comprehensive knowledge of small displacement bikes.

    Devin Biek and Richard Worsham, the Janus co-founders, were not experienced manufacturers when they got this going — but they figured it out. They prove that smart people, seeking to build something with high quality, can manufacture. This is not a trivial thing because in America we’re going to have to learn how to manufacture again. We can do it. This is proof.

    Reshoring is a concept where you think of businesses coming back to America to make things. As a trend it’s slow in developing because there is so little incentive for those outfits to return. For mass production you go where there is cheap labor. Really, we don’t want those companies back if they’re not going to pay people middle class wages. Reshoring may happen here and there, but to recreate a manufacturing sector we kind of need to start over.

    In reality, jobs are created in manufacturing now in America by people like Biek and Worsham, who are starting from scratch, learning as they go, and making something great. They’re really not competing with Honda or the other big players because they are making something with a truly unique high value, special, Limited Edition products. That’s how you get started, and that’s how eventually you reinvent industries. That’s not reshoring, that’s re-creating. That’s how you grow job bases in regions.

    Rebuilding the manufacturing base is going to require about 100,000 more companies like Janus, not the pipe dream of big companies coming back. Don’t believe the lies some politicians tell about this. You don’t reverse a 40 year trend of offshoring just by talking loud. You do it by encouraging, supporting, teaching, and in general, loving, young makers. That takes time, and what governments can do is either stay out of the way, or, do something to support the maker movement in education and in worker re-training.

    They have a lovely video on the Janus home page, about 25 minutes long that tells their story. If you want to be inspired as an entrepreneur, have a look. Good luck Janus!

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    Six Ideas for Coping with Little “d” Depression in Innovation Projects

    Innovation and Depression …Six Ideas for Coping with Little “d” Depression… Nobody talks about the dark emotions related to innovation. You hear about the emotional high of a big “aha” moment. Or, less frequently, about the “oh crap” moment when a project hits a brick wall. But nobody talks about how personal battles with the dark side impact innovation. How many promising projects have gone up in smoke because the creator, the innovator, the project leader, or a team member lost faith in a dark moment? Losing heart for something you want to do can happen when a wave of negative emotion carries you away. It’s why people give up. Emotional highs and lows are part of life. I’m not




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    Dance Your Challenge

    Shake Your Booty The Creativity and Innovation point of this blog takes about three paragraphs to develop, so business readers, let me tell you a brief story to set it up. I was having dinner this week with Gary Schwartz, a fine actor and Improv person who was blowing through Chicago to promote his new children’s book, The King of Average.  Gary studied with a hero of mine, Viola Spolin (he’s the leading expert on her games and methods). As we talked about Improv and I heard some of his stories I was particularly impressed with one story having to do with “getting into the body” of a role. The Story: So Gary was playing the role of a Roman




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    Five Magic Imagination Guidelines

    Five Magic Imagination Guidelines You hear it so often that it becomes one of those things that you really don’t think about it. “Use your imagination” is the phrase or thought that I’m talking about. I believe that many of us actually fear our own imagination. That’s tragic, don’t be afraid. It occurs to me that most people have the desire, deep down, to use their imagination more — but have no idea how. Here’s how. First of all Access your imagination more often. Do it deliberately. If you ask your imagination for ideas or visions once a year it’s a bit like that faucet in the back of the house you never use. When you turn it on, it’s




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    Innovation 2015 or Five Lame Excuses?

    Death or Kryptonite? I have a  vinyl record with one of those strategic skips that has it repeating — it drives me nuts — but I still play the record because I love the song so much. The song is Jimmy Olsen’s Blues by the Spin Doctors. It’s a hard rocker about the lament of Superman’s pal who has a crush on Superman’s gal. In the song Jimmy Olsen is competing with the man of steel for the affection of Miss Lois Lane. He’s got a secret weapon, a pocketful of Kryptonite. Innovation ca feel a lot like that — your competition is a big tough impossible-to-beat player like Superman. And no matter your size as an organization, you’d better be like




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    The Invisible Elephant of Non-Self-Expression

    Late Night Dream Anxiety Re: Self-Expression I had a dream last night about self-expression. I dreamed about writing a blog post. I wish I could recall exactly what I wrote in my dreams. The gist of the dream had to do with how pervasive a concept the lack of self-expression is in our lives — so much so that we usually ignore it. The elephant in the creativity and innovation room is a lack of full self-expression. The elephant in the dream — me — was trying to make itself known to an amorphous group in a meeting. I tried to speak but nobody heard my voice. I blew that elephant trumpet and nobody heard. I think the point of




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    Help Detained USA Citizen In Abu Dhabi

    This is a departure for this blog. While there is a direct connection to creativity and innovation it is essentially a press release written by concerned leaders in the creativity and innovation international community. One of our own, Dr. Robert Alan Black, has been detained in Abu Dhabi. The details are below. My request is that if you are so moved, please contact the offices of your elected officials. USA citizens can find contact information here.  Press Release For Immediate Release Contact:                     Rosemary Rein Phone number:       239-910-3354 Email:                         rosemaryrein@rosemaryrein.com   American Creativity Expert Detained In Abu Dhabi Friday October 31, 2014 – Athens, Georgia. Dr. Robert Alan Black, an Athens resident, is being held in Al Wathba prison in




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    Six Ideas for Creative Action

    What kind of action can you take, today, to advance your dream? What action can you take today to make real your invention, your new business idea, or art project? This is a post about taking creative action. All the great ideas in the world, all the wonderful concepts, all the ground-breaking thoughts we have are useless unless we get into real world action. It’s an easy concept to forget for people who love ideas, concepts, and imaginative thinking. Somehow — we are such great rationalisers — the good vibes generated when we have those lovely thoughts feel like action. But sadly they are not. Every day that slips by without real world forward progress on our creative ideas is




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    Have You Made the Creative Choice?

    Have you made the Creative Choice? There is a ton of written material about creativity and innovation. I make an effort to keep up with the waves of literature — there’s a new methodology, a new process, fresh brain research, best practices, anti-best practices, etc. Some of this literature is quite good. There is also stuff about how creativity relates to mysticism and spirituality, also quite interesting. Finally there is also a good deal of useless, boring drivel that only reinforces unhelpful mythology about creativity. If you intend to be more creative and to use that capacity to innovate, I would encourage you to read widely and make your own judgments, but don’t get lost in all the words, don’t




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    The Innovation Metronome

    There is no achievement without hard work. There is no breakthrough innovation without hard work. Innovation happens when you practice with discipline, with rhythm. We sometimes get lucky with things and shortcuts present themselves. Even then, one has to be ready to recognise luck when it’s sitting in front of you — on its hind legs begging for a ham bone. Even recognising a breakthrough innovation opportunity takes the hard work of understanding the market, the context. Call that deep research. Usually innovation is a bit like the guitar lesson I had yesterday. I take a weekly lesson from a kind church lady. Donna is a great teacher, she swings, in the musical sense. I emphasize the kind aspect of




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