Per the link above, I also believe that this is an apocryphal quote. I don’t think any of the major quotation books or sites attribute it to Edison. I sounds to the modern ear like something Edison would say, but the language is anachronistic.
During my keynote on “Lessons from a Mature PMO on Sustaining Success”, I spent a considerable amount of time discussing one of the pitfalls of success: becoming satisfied with what was already in place. For example, some global PMO services stopped evolving and improving. Our regions felt like they had to build their own improvements — even worse, we didn’t have a mechanism for leveraging these innovations.
Luckily, we did a some working models that we were able to formalize. Below is a graphic — with a link to a PDF — that outlines the basic concept and an example (WBS templates).
While we love to decry boredom, it can become a pathway to enlightment and transformation. As the Daily Om notes (here):
Boredom itself is not detrimental to the soul—it is the manner in which we respond to it that determines whether it becomes a positive or a negative influence in our lives. When you respond by actively filling the emptiness you feel lurking in yourself, you cultivate creativity and innovation.
I had never seen this quote and I very much like Rushdie’s perspective. A few years back, I made an effort to delve into serious fiction, which in turn has increased my appreciation of the power of that “version of the world” a talented novelist can conjure. I’ve found a great novel more conducive to breakthrough thinking than a dozen management best-sellers.
When people think of Charles Darwin, they first think of evolution. But as Matt Ridley notes in this excellent The Spectator piece (here), there are currents of Darwin’s thought that flow on almost unrecognized:
Charles Darwin, who was born 200 years ago next month, has spent the 150 years since he published The Origin of Species fighting for the idea of common descent… But in some ways it is less radical and topical than his other, more philosophical legacy: that order can generate itself, that the living world is a ‘bottom-up’ place.
As regular readers know, I’m skeptical of the way many technologists don the cloak of “innovator”, or “revolutionary”, or “pathfinder” (here and here). The role of innovators is humbler in Darwin’s world:
Every technology has traceable ancestry; ‘to create is to recombine’ said the geneticist François Jacob. The first motor car was once described by the historian L.T.C. Rolt as ‘sired by the bicycle out of the horse carriage’. Just like living systems, technologies experience mutation (such as the invention of the spinning jenny), reproduction (the rapid mechanisation of the cotton industry as manufacturers copied each others’ machines), sex (Samuel Crompton’s combination of water frame and jenny to make a ‘mule’), competition (different designs competing in the early cotton mills), extinction (the spinning jenny was obsolete by 1800), and increasing complexity (modern cotton mills are electrified and computerised).
It’s a nice bit of irony that so many of these self-styled technology revolutionaries — who often believe their innovations had no precedents — are at heart believers in theories like spontaneous generation or intelligent design. Not the company they would imagine themselves keeping, eh?
The New York Times yesterday had an excellent feature on the revival of McDonald’s over the past five years (here). I don’t quite buy this characterization of the change by Bob Goldin at Technomics, however.
[T]he McDonald’s rebound had been singular because of its simplicity: “execute the basics, flawlessly.” He described the McDonald’s strategy as “three yards and a cloud of dust,” adding that “it’s not revolution stuff.”
I’m not sure what revolution looks like… a new format, new menu items, new hours, etc.? My guess is that commentators are looking for a visible manifestation of wrenching change. But perhaps the revolution at McDonald’s is in the way it can implement change. From a franchisor, Ken Hullings:
It seemed like every other month I was putting something on the menu or taking something off, he says. We were looking for that magic bullet, that magic pill. And I think what we realized that it wasn’t just one thing.
I think that there’s a better football analogy for this business approach — the West Coast offense (especially Bill Walsh’s version). This approach is in many ways conservative and disciplined, yet enables diversity and unpredictability in one’s play calling. It also values players who can react in real-time to the unfolding competitive enviroment (i.e., the defense). In fact, it sounds an awful lot like what the IBM Global Survey (here) envisioned as:
The Enterprise of the Future [which] embraces unpredictability as the new routine…
Filed under: Innovation, Leadership, Organizational Change Management, Strategy Management, Turnarounds | Tagged: Bill Walsh, Bob Goldin, McDonald's, New York Times, Technomics, West Coast Offense | Leave a comment »