Monday, February 19, 2007

Creativity & Innovation

Recently, I took a workshop called "Creativity & Innovation."

Companies tend to choose people who are similar to them and who think like them. We largely dislike conflict and challenge and think that it is unproductive and slows down the business process.

In groups where we've challenged and argued with each other, while simultaneously respecting each other's opinions, I gained new colleagues that I could respect and value. And whom respect and value me.

Creativity is the child's mind, or in Buddha's terms, the "monkey mind." This is the mind that thinks without censorship. Innovation is creativity translated into action.

I found that this can be a very powerful tool when people are able to combine the "whole company brain." Apple, Inc. is a famous example of this. If Apple hadn't gone beyond computers and hadn't created the iPod today, Apple wouldn't be the status symbol that it is today.

Google is another example. It revolutionized search. It gave us word document sharing, satellite-style mapping and the ability to apply Google search on our own websites.

Now, this is the product of putting many "monkey minds" to work.

Friday, February 2, 2007


The world of business is not without politics.

As a young and amateur businessperson, the subject of communicating, politicking and ethics hasn't become intuitive yet. When I say that it hasn't become intuitive, I mean that it is still easy to see the world through rose-colored glasses.

My definition of "politicking" is this: when people start to do things that others are not aware about and make decisions for their own benefit. So basically, there isn't honesty and there isn't accountability for one's actions.

In Devil Wears Prada, Meryl Streep points out to her assistant that she had to step on some people to get to where she was. Is this really the truth about business? Economically, we talk a lot about how we do things to ensure that everyone receives value in what they invest in. Ideally, business should be about fair exchange.

I do believe that it is possible to do business honestly. The question is when do you know where the line is between honest and dishonest "business-doing"?

There have been several situations involving Enron, Apple, and other companies where issues that initially seem very small become huge issues of miscommunication, mismanagement or what have you.

One of the books that I read on communications emphasized that all members of an organization maintain open and honest communication with each other. In one situation, two partners in a business had such bad relations with each other that it was ruining the company. The consultant comes in and improves their business relationship and the company is saved.

Sounds ideal, right? The truth is that it is not so easy to do, it takes time, and the truth is that miscommunications happen very easily even with all good intentions involved.

These are just some initial thoughts and my hope is they will become more well-informed thoughts as I start to pay more attention to these sorts of issues.