Innovative Business Practices from the Bible

For several years Peter Denning, author of The Innovator’s Way, has been puzzling over why it seems that our innovation adoption rates are low even though our idea production rates are high. The overall success rate of innovation initiatives in business is around 4%. Yet many businesses report that they have too many ideas and waste precious time and resources struggling to select the ones most likely to succeed and then work them through to adoption. We are idea rich, selection baffled, and adoption poor.

What if innovation is not ideas generated, but practices adopted? What if entrepreneurs, rather than inventors, are the real innovators? Should we worry less about stimulating creativity and imagination, and more about developing our skills at getting our communities to adopt new practices. We would approach design not as an expression of ideas but as the framework for new practices.

In The Case for God, Karen Armstrong explains that until the modern period, the major Western monotheisms all concerned themselves primarily with practice, the doing of religion, rather than doctrine [ideas]. A good Muslim was one who stood alongside and supported the Pillars; a good Jew observed Sabbath and remained committed to the Law and the ritual year; and a good Christian embodied the Sermon on the Mount by caring for the marginalized, promoting compassion and peace, and sharing God’s love. This is what it meant to be religious, Armstrong explains:

Religion as defined by the great sages of India, China, and the Middle East was not a notional activity but a practical one; it did not require belief in a set of doctrines but rather hard, disciplined work, without which any religious teaching remained opaque and incredible.

Is there a relationship between our business practices and our religious practices?

[To begin to understand why practices may be more important than ideas,] we must become comfortable with the fact that mind generally does not work the way it appears to. This sounds paradoxical. We expect our introspective sense of mind to serve as a reasonable guide to the actual nature of mind. We expect it to give us a loose picture that, once enhanced by science, will represent the workings of mind. But it is instead badly deceptive. Our loose picture of mind is a loose fantasy. Consciousness is a wonderful instrument for helping us to focus, to make certain kinds of decisions and discriminations, and to create certain kinds of memories, but it is a liar about mind. It shamelessly represents itself as comprehensive and all-governing, when in fact the real work is often done elsewhere, in ways too fast and too smart and too effective for slow, dumb, unreliable consciousness to do more than glimpse, dream of, and envy.

More to come…


Fashion Show to Benefit the Hungry & Music Education

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;

Matthew 25: 34-35

Startup Westchester is hosting “La Bonne Vie Défilé de Mode” (The Good Life Fashion Show) as a fundraiser for Hope Community Services and Composers of the Future. The fashion show will take place during New York Fashion Week to better highlight the irony of the fashion industry’s promotion of the “Thin Ideal” (see below) when so many people are hungry. We are also looking to counter the advertising model outlined in Jean Kilbourne’s “Killing Us Softly”:

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The Secret to Creativity

It is easier to enhance creativity by changing conditions in the environment than by trying to make people think more creatively. And a genuinely creative accomplishment is almost never the result of a sudden insight, a lightbulb flashing on in the dark, but comes after years of hard work…. If you do anything well, it becomes enjoyable…. To keep enjoying something, you need to increase it’s complexity. ~ Creativity by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Just decide who you are going to be and how you are going to do it. There is a redemptive quality to making a choice. You are not a victim of your past and a lack of resources is never the defining factor. You were born an artist, the trick is to remain an artist as you grow up. So do something, make a choice but be prepare to be wrong. If you’re not prepared to be wrong you’ll never come up with anything original.

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

If you want to be… successful.. read… autobiographical advice books, right? Wrong, says Roger Martin in The Opposable Mind. [B]y emulating what a great leader did in a particular situation, you’ll likely be terribly disappointed with your own results. Why? Your situation is different. Instead of focusing on what exceptional leaders do, we need to understand and emulate how they think. Successful business people engage in what Martin calls integrative thinking creatively resolving the tension in opposing models by forming entirely new and superior ones. Continue reading

For I was hungry…

Startup Westchester is developing a documentary and web series about hunger, homelessness, and poverty.

Hope Community Kitchen

The kitchen at Hope Community Services

For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;

“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?

“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ ~ Matthew 25: 35-40

The Food Bank for Westchester estimates 200,000 Westchester County residents are hungry, or are at risk of hunger. More than half of them are seniors and one-third are children under the age of 18.

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Startup Westchester

Google, magazines and newspaper

Google alone is now bigger than either newspapers and magazines.

We are developing a new organization called Startup Westchester to create a startup community in Westchester County, New York. As Steve Case, the co-founder of America Online, wrote:

[A]ny locality in the United States can build a vibrant startup community if it strategically brings together the key partners who support growth.

It will be based on ideas from Brad Feld’s Startup Communities and additional ideas:

Feld’s thesis is that unlike the common wisdom, it is entrepreneurs that lead a startup community while everyone else feeds the community.
Feld describes the characteristics of those who want to be regional Entrepreneurial Leaders; they need to be committed to their region for the long-term (20-plus years), the community and its leaders must be inclusive, play a non-zero sum game, be mentorship-driven and be comfortable experimenting and failing fast.
Feeders include the government, universities, investors, mentors, service providers and large companies. He points out that some of these — government, universities and investors — think of themselves as the leaders and Feld’s thesis is that we’ve gotten it wrong for decades.

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