October 15, 2015
I just returned from the EACUBO annual meeting in Philadelphia where I heard great presentations, met interesting colleagues, became inspired and re-energized, and explored the Reading Terminal Market (the fresh squeezed lemonade and cinnamon sugar pretzel from Miller’s Twist were excellent).
I wanted to share with you a few take-away ideas from a session by Jeff Hoffman, a very successful entrepreneur (heard of Priceline.com?) and motivational speaker. Mr. Hoffman spoke about innovation, specifically five actions that we can take to be more innovative. I’ll give you a quick summary and suggest that you watch his TED talk for more. His five suggested actions that we can all take:
1. Don't get used to your surroundings. Be sure to stop and see everything like it was your first time. Watch the TED talk to hear about the “why?” game.
2. Be an “info-sponge” by constantly scanning the rest of the world, especially the world beyond our homes, our offices, and even higher education. Take 10 minutes every day to read or watch or observe something new.
3. Hold “blue sky sessions” with co-workers, colleagues, and key stakeholders where we ask the question “if we could start all over, what could we do better?” Don’t worry about the reasonableness of the responses… 99 of the ideas might not be implementable, then the 100th may be the best idea ever.
4. Deepen our understanding of our primary stakeholders - students, parents, researchers, business administrators. Do this by meeting them in their comfort zone, dressed similarly to them, and without an agenda – just “hang out,” listen, and learn.
5. Re-think of our workplace with a culture of experimentation. Do small things differently on a regular basis and see if we stumble on a better way. If the experiment isn’t better, it is not a big deal to go back to the old way or to try a new way.
One idea from Mr. Hoffman’s presentation really made me stop and think: he advocated for each of us to be unreasonable at times. Doesn’t that sound odd? I’ve always tried to be reasonable and practical. And I think that approach has served me well in many situations. But, I’ll leave you with one last quote from George Bernard Shaw on reasonableness and ask you to think about what this means to you.
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man."
Have a great weekend and hope to see you at the CVC Cornhole tournament tomorrow!