15 December 2008

Champion ~ Support, Defense, Enduring Devotion

The latest Economist article titled Champion is all about the key support and nurturing required to ensure that seemingly crazy organizational ideas thrive and endure. The article quotes legendary MIT Professor Don Schon...
"The new idea either finds a champion or dies ... No ordinary involvement with a new idea provides the energy required to cope with the indifference and resistance that major technological change provokes ... Champions of new inventions display persistence and courage of heroic quality."
And Dartmouth Professor James Brian Quinn...
"The champion is obnoxious, impatient, egotistic, and perhaps a bit irrational in organisational terms. As a consequence, he is not hired. If hired, he is not promoted or rewarded. He is regarded as not a serious person, as embarrassing or disruptive."
Finally quoting Spence Silver...
"You have to be a zealot at times in order to keep interest alive, because it will die off. It seems like the pattern always goes like this. In the fat times, these groups appear and do a lot of interesting research. And then the lean times come just about at the point when you’ve developed your first goody, your gizmo. And then you’ve got to go out and try to sell it. Well, everybody in the division is so busy that they don’t want to touch it. They don’t have time to look at new product ideas with no end-product already in mind."
He co-invented Post-It Notes at 3M;-)

This makes me think I'm not so crazy in championing Developmental Entrepreneurship & Development Ventures, Digital Anthropology & Systems Sociology, Neurotechnology Ventures, Imaging Ventures, Metro Ventures & Urban Innovations, Mobile Ventures, the greater MIT Campus as Living Lab + Technology Testbed + Market Microcosm, Understanding MIT & Changing MIT, Value Chain Roadmapping, Innovation Observatories, student-driven Entrepreneurship @ MIT, the Innovation Teams (i.e. iTeams), Action Labs, and many other elements of research, education, and extracurriculars at the Institute.

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