Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Quotable Quotes from (not so) Ordinary Folks

I've had enough of hackneyed quotes from famous people. 

Einstein's once novel quote,We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” may be true, but I'm sick of it! 
Cited over and over again in order to herd groups toward innovative or design-thinking, it's a taser with dead batteries.

As an antidote, maybe even an inoculation against group-think, can't we draw insights from people alive and working alongside us today? I offer a small sample from recent experience:

Freshly home from back-to-back business trips in Las Vegas (really it was business) with some fun, wildly smart clients, and  Vancouver for a conference, I received an email from  design genius John Tong. The founder of +tongtong and his wife, Anne, had just returned from Milan. "Being able to mix business with pleasure is one of the secrets to living well." His quote summarizes precisely what I'd experienced during my two recent trips. 

While exploring key factors in identifying niche markets with a client, I'd posted into our collection of yellow stickies one which read "intuition". As I did, the man who'd made the suggestion earlier blurted, "Intuition? I didn't think that was allowed!"  Mike Smith, the President and founder of ReadySmith Advisers, summarized cultural bias in that moment.

The topic of intuition spiced many conversations throughout Vancouver's Corporate State event. The event is attended by powerful women in business. Kicking off the event, keynoter Sherry Cooper, the former Chief Economist with BMO Nesbitt Burns, balanced her data-filled financial forecast of the U.S. and Canadian economies with, "I trust my intuition in forecasting." 

In her opening remarks on the Auction Economy, innovation expert Karen Morris said, "My intuition is beating in my breast." Pure poetry. Later in that same discussion Karen noted, "Values and Innovation are inextricable tied." She illustrated how using a reference to John Donne's brilliant 16th century poem Valediction Forbidding Mourning, "If they be two, they are two so, as stiff twin compasses are two; thy soul, the fixt foot, makes no show to move, but doth if th'other do." Now that's a quote I never tire of but used to describe business relationships--that's new.

Of our obssession with discounted goods and services resulting in RFPs awarded to lowest bidder regardless of quality or ability to deliver, Karen asked, "What is the right price for the wrong thing?" Nudging Canadian businesses to innovate she prodded, "All businesses need to be asking 'How can I change what, how and by whom I am paid?'" Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

Who was it who said, "Insanity is doing the same things over and over again expecting different results"? Oh yeah, Einstein. Let's take the dude's advice and  sample the sayings of today's brainiacs. Go ahead, I dare you to float an original quote to see what can happen. 

Or as Evelyn Bailey, Vice President of Software with IBM said, "My job is to break glass and not accept business as usual."