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    Five Ways Incivility Decapitates Innovation

    A Culture of Incivility Harms USA Innovation

    decapitatinginnovationv1Five Ways Incivility “Decapitates” Innovation

    The recent flap around Kathy Griffin’s posting a picture of a fake severed head, of our President, was a sad attempt at humor, but incredibly successful at provocation.

    It has brought up the discussion, once again, of the civility of our discourse in America. I think Tiffany Quay Tyson does a nice job of summing up how many people are reacting to the Griffin incident, and the subsequent howls of reaction.

    No matter your political persuasion, civil discourse, and it’s close cousins, politeness, gentility, tolerance, compassion, and good manners have slipped far from where we once were.

    Those who keep track of civility are in agreement about the downslide. I’m not interested in arguing the point, who started it, or, which side of the aisle is worse. It goes beyond politics. Simple behaviors like cutting lines, yelling at people while in your car, treating people poorly, and flaming folks on FB — they indicate that politics is only reflecting a broader cultural tendency towards more incivility.

    Here’s the bottom line: incivility harms innovation, long term and short, business and personal.

    Five ways a lack of civility negatively impacts innovation:

    1. Teams: Innovation of all kinds is done by teams and rarely by individuals. Team members have to work together to get things done, and, a lack of civility puts people in unproductive conflict, and more often. In order to be productive teams need to get past conflict (see Tuckman model). So, teams are less effective and the result is less innovation.
    2. Bubbles: Diversity of thinking boosts the quantity and quality of creative output. In an uncivil world, people avoid those who don’t think as they do. Insular bubbles of “same think” people are created and those bubble groups have less creative ideas — because they have less thinking to combine. The result is less innovation, or, groups settling for incremental, not breakthrough, innovation.
    3. Government Efficiency: The government plays a big role in setting the table for corporate innovation. The results the USA has gotten from government programs, like NASA, has led to new industries and commercial success stories. Funding, and doing, deep research in science and technology pays off in the long run. As our federal government becomes more dysfunctional and less focused on problem solving, they get less done. Funding for important research gets put off or cancelled, and this will, in the long run, lead to less innovation. Of course, incivility is not the only reason research is not getting funded.
    4. Tolerance for Creatives: Creative people are sometimes not mainstream in their beliefs and behaviors (and I admit some are conventional and not stereotypical “creatives”). Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, and many others were complex characters, and for those people to create something important, a lot of tolerance is needed. With less tolerance for different views, be they political or otherwise, our crazy geniuses will be fired, or, won’t get nearly as much done. Again, less innovation is the result.
    5. Customers: Organizations that have uncivil cultures reflect that to their customers and suppliers. If your co-workers are rude to you, your unhappiness is likely to spill over when facing customers. Even a single incident of rudeness is enough to turn away a customer of many years. This is more of an income impact, but without income, an organization can’t invest in…innovation.

    So, folks, let’s keep our heads on, and start acting like nice people. Innovation needs you to behave that way.

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    Ten Things United Airlines Might Have Done

    Improving Customer Service at United Airlines Requires a Paradigm Shift and Recognizing They Have a Problem Creative Training Would Have Helped 10 Things United Airlines Might Have Done (see below) Once again we have an incident of extremely poor customer service from a major airline. This time it’s United (as it is frequently) who dragged a paying customer off a flight by force. A doctor on a deadline. Incidentally, an Asian man. The video is very hard to watch, it’s sad, degrading, humiliating for the passenger, and an example of brutality visited upon an innocent and trusting consumer. The cops went too far as well, but United made the call and got them involved. United is responsible. Other than beating




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    The Founder, Innovation On Film

    The Founder, Lessons in Innovation The Founder, starring Michael Keaton as McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, is the best film about innovation since Moneyball in 2011. Between the two of them there is enough marvelously illustrated content to teach a masters course in innovation. Unlike Moneyball, which had the surface covering of a baseball story, The Founder is actually about how innovation happens.  In telling Ray Kroc’s story, we see it all: the entrepreneurial mindset, observational research, desire, and, how an idea is taken to the next level. One does not have to be a student of innovation to love this movie. Innovation stories, in both the movie, and in real life are filled with emotion, brilliance, and human frailty. Innovation




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    Trump: Learn to Steal Smart

    Stealing Smart and Stealing Stupid Melania Trump’s speech last evening at the GOP convention, and today’s subsequent media uproar and fiasco, is symbolic of several things in my view. Summarizing my themes here: Competence, Theft, and Ideas (or lack of them). I’ll take flack for writing this post, but understand, this is not about politics. It involves politics — but my comments have more to do with creativity and innovation. As most of you know, my interests are in those areas, so, I’m looking at recent events with that lens. Not as a lefty, not as a righty. I’m looking at this with the green tinted shades of the artist and the black and white lens of a professional innovator.




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    Paying Lip Service to Developing Entrepreneurs

    There is a very frightening trend happening in the USA. We are not growing entrepreneurs. See my “Seven Ways to Grow Entrepreneurs” below! What is it we believe in our capitalist country? Isn’t it something like this: Anybody who works very hard, has a bit of talent and a good idea, can start something, grow it, and do well.  Isn’t that the essence of the entrepreneurial American dream? Yes, there is more to it than that. Yes, you can fail. Yes, it’s a market driven meritocracy — or it should be. I’ve always taken this entrepreneurial spirit for granted – it’s who we are! I’ve always assumed that as the years go by, more and more Americans (and this extends




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    Domain Knowledge Matters Donald Trump

    Call me king of the obvious but I’d like to remind folks about something related to leadership, innovation, and the upcoming election. Domain Knowledge Matters I’m not taking political sides here but I’m going to make a point about Donald Trump’s candidacy. Let’s face it he has captured the attention of a large group of people. This is factual — the polls have him leading the GOP field. My opinion on why he’s doing so well is this: Trump says things that are bold, straightforward, non-PC and they echo the sentiments of many Americans. People love this approach because it’s just not what they’re used to hearing from a politician. I’ll put aside the notions and accusations that he’s racist,




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    The Flaming Lips and Economic Development

    Consider Attending the Creativity World Forum 2015 As many of you know I’ve participated in the annual State of Creativity Forum in Oklahoma for several years. I’ve written here previously about how effective their model is in getting broad-based involvement, participation, and attendance. This is arguably the most successful creativity conference in the world right now. Those interested in the creativity and innovation field should attend Creativity World Forum 2015 if at all possible. It’s affordable, the content is superb, and it’s a great networking opportunity. It’s in just a few weeks, so register, and make plans now to arrive in Oklahoma City for the March 31st one day event. The illustrious Sir Ken Robinson is  returning as a keynoter (he




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    Rural Broadband Necessary for Rural Innovation

    Tuesday– September 23, 2014 It’s nice to see that people are recognizing that innovation isn’t always in Silicon Valley. Writing you today from the countryside in Three Oaks, Michigan, aka “Michiana” — where my poky web access is satellite based. Steve Case’s article earlier this week in the Washington Post  — Why innovation and start-ups are thriving in ‘flyover’ country —  is spot on. Case, you may recall, was co-founder of AOL. He correctly identifies the reasons why Chicago, Denver, Cincinnati, and other smaller cities are becoming vibrant centers of start-ups. He’s asking for investments of time and money to be made in order to further the trend. I agree, and… He didn’t go far enough with his article — he missed one




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    Ten Ideas for Using Innovation Film Clips

    I’ve written an article on Innovation in movies — Inspiring Innovation Films: a Top Ten List.  It’s been published on the Innovation Excellence portal — I’d be most grateful if you’d read it and comment over there. Today’s post is a value add to that article with some ideas on how to use creativity and innovation clips in projects and meetings. If you’re an innovation educator, manager, or team leader you may want to consider using clips as training and/or stimulus tools. I’m a big one for keeping things entertaining no matter what you’re doing. Movie clips are a great way to do that. Here are Ten Ideas on how to integrate film clips into an innovation project: Send out a




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    Ted Nugent Lacks Creativity

    The Golden Triangle of Inanity I’ve resisted the urge to write an enraged post about the inflammatory comments made in recent weeks by Ted Nuget, Sarah Palin, and Duck Dynasty guy, Phil Robertson. I call them The Golden Triangle of Inanity (GTA). Many writers and observers have responded to their words in kind, so, I guess that base is covered. I had the notion to take Ted Nugent’s recent statement (called Obama a “subhuman mongrel”) on word for word, and then I thought, it’s not worth the energy. Why spread around even more negativity? Suffice to say I think the recent statements of the GTA are crass, ignorant, and grossly inappropriate. If you believe that these celebrities are speaking out




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