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This is the first entry for my new blog, which over time will offer my thoughts on any number of issues affecting the School.  I will not post something every day, but I hope to have a couple of entries each week.  I am especially interested in your thoughts and reactions, so please feel free to make comments.  The blog will cover more than strategic planning, but this entry is about our planning process because it is on my mind.

We have shifted to an important stage in our strategic planning—the opportunity for all of you to generate ideas and proposals for how the School can have an even greater impact.  A New York Times article from a few years ago illustrates why it is essential that you share your ideas with the DAC.  It described a software company that allows any employee to propose an idea for a new product or an efficiency improvement.  The ideas become stocks on an internal market and employees express their feelings about the stocks (ideas) by investing “opinion money.”  The president of the company was unenthusiastic about one employee’s idea for a new technology.  It generated overwhelming support among company employees on the internal stock market—they developed the idea and now it accounts for 30% of total sales.

Here’s the point.  According to the company president, “the most brilliant insights tend to come from people other than senior management.  So we created a marketplace to harvest collective genius.”  That’s exactly what we are trying to do in this stage of the School’s strategic planning process—tap into your collective genius.  The article concluded that “creativity is no longer about which companies have the most visionary executives, but who has the most compelling ‘architecture of participation.'”  In other words, how do you structure opportunities for everyone to contribute ideas?  The DAC has tried to create an architecture that gives you maximum flexibility in developing your ideas and proposals.  You have the knowledge, experience, and the creativity to increase our impact, and I encourage you to develop proposals on your own or with others.  We can’t do it without you.

2 thoughts on “Tapping Your Genius

  1. I really value and support this concept and our incremental steps to getting there. [wet rag]Blackboard is ultimately not the professional community environment (I call them “community hubs”) you describe, nor one we’d want to use for our client professional communities.[/wet rag] It’s got the potential, however, to be a good start that will help us better appreciate a system down the road that really *is* architected for participation.
    I envision us creating and modeling such a space(s) for ourselves and our client communities–a place to SHARE, CONNECT, LEARN. It’s where governments at many levels are increasingly headed to increase transparency and encourage broader citizen participation–and where in my opinion, the SOG should be headed/leading as well.
    –hmm, this is sounding a lot like a strategic planning suggestion for the new DAC site.
    ~Joel G.

  2. I had lunch with a group of faculty recently, and one was particularly distressed that trying to “increase our impact” was ignoring our current impact. Also that instructions were not more specific.

    My interpretation of the dac is that we are *not* assuming that we are not having an impact, or that the impact is small, or that there are, in every area of our work, lots of room to expand our impact.

    I think that we have to demonstrate what that impact is and could be, including dropping things that are not having the right impact, or enough of an impact, or as much as they once did. But this begs the question – how do we define impact? I feel like the effort to maximize flexability is to allow those closest to the work figure it out in terms that are meaningful to them But what ever those terms are, it also has to demonstrate the impact to others – we can’t just say, “Believe me, a lot of good comes from work.”

    Mike ( I think) is talking about flexibility in getting ideas to the table. I’m talking about flexibility in thinking about impact. My measurement of ultimate impact of my work will be different than someone elses. The point is, each of us is going to have to articulate our impact in some way. That in turn is the fuel for thinking of new ways to increase impact.

    What is wrong with this? That by being flexible, you make comparisons across the org hard. But i think folks in the dac thought the “send us any and all ideas’ would be a better approach than us giving detailed instructions where we might lose valuable input from anyone in the org.

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