Osborn-Parnes model

“Open For Business” is a Promise Made

Open-for-businessOpen for Business 

It’s a real joy when a business opens its doors for the first time. “Open for Business” sounds and feels like hope and possibility to me. Starting a new business is where creativity blossoms and where innovation is made real. You’ve created something and you want to deliver that value for a fair payment in return. That’s what an entrepreneur does.

Why would the government put anything in the way of a win-win business transaction?

The law recently passed in Indiana (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) is being fiercely debated. I really don’t want to comment, much, on the moral aspect of the law, I want to comment instead on what it means to open your doors for business in the USA. While this law may purport to support freedom, at least in some ways, it limits freedom. And the freedom it limits is a long-standing American tradition, and one I personally treasure. As a young boy in Wilkes-Barre, PA my mother took me into a Jewish Bakery (Kornblatt’s bagels were the best!), a Chinese Laundry, and a Polish Butcher all in a morning shopping trip. We were always welcome in those shops, even though we weren’t of the same faith as all those vendors. They knew how it worked, you open your doors, and you welcome everybody.

When you open your doors for business you’re saying you have a service or a product to offer. In the land of the free and the home of the brave — anyone — with cold hard cash can walk through your door and buy your offering. Someone coming through your door should always be welcome. Customers support your business, and, are validation of your business idea. Their money, in exchange for your product, supports the life you choose to live. Your customer supports your freedom — all your freedoms.

Opening your doors for business means anyone should be free to buy — that’s the implicit promise you make.

Isn’t that an American tradition? Wasn’t the civil rights movement fought to expand that tradition to all?

What somebody does with your product or service, as long as it’s legal, should be of no concern to you. You might have an interest in what they do with it, but selling your wares does not give you a right to anything more than the money you are paid. Customer relationships ought to be cordial and professional and sometimes a lot more, but nobody has a right to expect anything more than the fair exchange of goods and services for money. Having a product to sell, having a going concern, does not make you better than anyone else — and it doesn’t bestow you with a robe and a gavel.

Who buys your product also should not matter.

I’ve had some difficult customers in my time. Challenging, difficult people can make doing business hard. Sometimes there are people I’ve agreed to work with I really don’t care for — and whose values I question. Some people come in your door and you have a gut feel that they are just Wrong. And — I still make my best efforts to give them the finest quality I have. Why? Because I hung out a shingle, I said I was Open for Business. That’s the deal you make when you open a business. Breaking that deal means you have no integrity, by opening the door you should be saying everyone is welcome. ALL paying customers are accepted — be they Jerks, Purple-tatooed-Punk-rockers, Pink haired goofballs, Scientologists, Amish, Beatniks, African American’s, Native American’s, anyone from Norwood, Ohio — or LGBT — not to single anyone out.

Most unpleasant buying and selling experiences are bad for both the buyer and the seller. Guess what? The market will sort it out if given time. Paying customers go where they feel appreciated. Generally you only have to hold your nose once — and that’s part of being Open for Business. Sometimes people walk in who smell. That’s how it goes folks, that’s business in an open and diverse society. It’s fair to fire a customer if the deal isn’t a win-win — that’s negotiation — but if someone meets your terms, pink  hair or not, smelly or not, that should conclude the deal. There should be no other considerations. If you have strong feeling about how bad or evil you think your customer is, remind yourself that they are helping you pay your mortgage.

Religious freedom ought to mean that your religion doesn’t ever step on anybody else’s religious beliefs and choices. Let’s keep our religious beliefs to ourselves unless we are invited to share. Let’s keep our judgements to ourselves and realize we live in a diverse society.

Let’s keep the implicit promise we make when we open our doors for business — that we are open to business — let’s keep our word.

If you want to discriminate, don’t open your doors for business.


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

Read More..

Baby Steps To Breakthrough In Regional Economic Development

Creativity, Innovation, and Economic Development — Embracing the Challenge Better Questions Means Better Answers for Regional Economic Development It’s about Attitudes, Projects, and Baby Steps Economic Development is important and challenging work. Having just interviewed players in this field and surveyed some regional initiatives — it’s clear that innovative work is being done in regional economic development — by some. I suspect that many in the field find the economic development challenge overwhelming. A bit like the Bob character in What about Bob, it’s tough to be creative when you are afraid to take a simple step. Thank you Bill Murray for a memorable character. Let’s face it, some regions always seem to lose out on the new plant. Some

Read More..

Seven Essentials of an Effective Innovation Project Manager

Outsourcing innovation project management might be the most strategic money you spend this year. It’s not a new idea but it’s one more companies should consider. It sure beats doing nothing. See my Seven Essentials for hiring below. But first: If you’ve not got an innovation plan in the process of being executed, right now, you are treading water and will eventually drown. So what’s stopping you from kicking off an innovation initiative? I often hear resources. What I hear from top management: “we don’t have the time or resources for innovation projects, we’ll start later this year.” I get it. How is it possible to do this separate thing that requires it’s own focus and resources while keeping the

Read More..

Mash-Ups for Innovation, a How To Guide

How to Do Mash-Ups for Innovation This is an article length, comprehensive post on Mash-Ups for Innovation. To say the least Mash-Ups hold great promise in helping people and organizations find useful and sometimes breakthrough innovations. This article will likely be part of a book on the front end of innovation that’s in development, stay tuned. Meanwhile I hope you find this guide useful. To digest this in bits, simply use the index to go to the section that interests you. There is value to reading these sections in order, but for those with an urgent need, you’ll find instructions for facilitation in the Continuum of Mash-Ups and How To sections below. Generally, if you’re looking for more breakthrough results

Read More..

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

Read More..

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

Read More..

Want Innovation? Ask.

Not everything about innovation is complicated. I recently gave a creative problem solving workshop to a group of scientists who all worked for the same outfit. It was a lively session. In addition to learning structured creative problem solving (Osborn-Parnes-Basadur framework) we did some short bits of ideation around new business concepts. This was more as a sampler than it was a real session. It wasn’t the goal of the session to reinvent their business, nonetheless, in a short time there were some relevant business growth ideas with potential on the table. An executive with the company remarked after the session that “nobody ever comes to me” with new business ideas. Talking more with this man a reason why emerged:

Read More..

FAQ Re: Dr. Alan Black

Greetings from gray and chilly Three Oaks, Michigan. As gloomy as it is, I’m grateful to be here and free. Freedom is not something we should take for granted. Later this morning I’ll take a walk outside around my pond and say prayers for my friend Alan Black. I might take a photograph. When he’s released I hope he’ll come visit me here so we can enjoy a walk outside together — and photograph whatever catches our eye. Below is the latest information from Friends of Alan Black. The FAQ pretty much says it all. Much of this has been covered in news reports, but FAB thought it would be helpful to put all the facts into one document. Alan’s

Read More..

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

Read More..