When Americans think of innovation, we tend to think of Silicon Valley. We don’t think about Israel or India … but we should.
Recently a host of articles, in the New York Times, in Business Week, and elsewhere, have begun praising the new innovation-driven business cultures of up-and-coming countries like Israel and India. These cultures, and other smaller markets around the globe, are grabbing headlines and investment dollars for their ability to come up with creative solutions that their bigger competitors … even in Silicon Valley … are missing.
What happened? How did corners of the world once better known for conflict and poverty suddenly turn into champions of original thinking?
The same way Silicon Valley did, says Prasad Kaipa, a respected global consultant on business innovation who teaches Organizational Systems at Saybrook’s Graduate College of Psychology and Humanistic Studies and is the executive director of the Center for Leadership, Innovation, and Change at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, India. Whether in Boston or Bangalore, the process for creating “clusters” of innovation is fairly similar across the board.
“You can’t just order people to be innovative and expect it to work in a meaningful way,” says Kaipa (who is also quoted in the Business Week article as an expert in India’s culture of innovation). “You have to have an ecosystem for innovation, and that ecosystem has got several elements.”
“I have a pretty good marriage,” author Elizabeth Weil wrote late last year in the New York Times. “It could be better.”
It was the first line in an article about how she and her husband tried to improve their marriage – which they were already pretty happy with – through therapy. It didn’t work out.
“My marriage was good,” she writes, “utterly central to my existence …” until therapy. As therapy went on, things changed.
“Over the months Dan and I applied ourselves to our marriage, we struggled, we bridled, we jockeyed for position. Dan grew enraged at me; I pulled away from him,” she writes. “I learned things about myself and my relationship with Dan I had worked hard not to know.”
In the end, they decided to abandon therapy, and the idea of marriage improvement, and settle for a “good enough marriage.” Weil is now working on a memoir about marriage improvement.
Since the article was published, it’s been the subject of ongoing conversation. What happened? What does her experience say about therapy … and about marriage?
Actually very little, says Ann Bernhardt, who directs the Marriage and Family Therapy program at Saybrook’s Graduate College of Psychology and Humanistic Studies. Reading Weil’s article, she wasn’t reminded of any therapy sessions she’s seen … but she was reminded of an article she read that came out on the same day.
It was about the White House dinner crashers.
As a doctoral student in Education Law and Policy studies, there was no need for Vince Pellegrino to push any boundaries with his dissertation. He could have done something rote, conservative, and safe.
Instead, he found himself working on a qualitative, humanistic, study of symbolic language in the civil rights movement, viewed through a feminist perspective.
“Plato describes the context for learning as other people, because learning involves understanding, deeply understanding, what other people mean,” Vince says. “So I examined speeches from the civil rights era to capture the context of meanings about words used like color or gender, and the symbolic issues they raised during that time.”
Why did he do it? Why did he go so far out of his way to write a dissertation that involved qualitative research and potential political ramifications?
“It was having good faculty members push me along to do deep exploration of my topic, and at the end still love it, not hate it,” he says. “That made all the difference. I value that engaged learning, and the way it was made available to me.”
Today Vince Pellegrino is Saybrook’s Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs, and he says the experience of his dissertation helps him understand the value of Saybrook’s values, and its model of education.
The Saybrook community will gather together to formally celebrate the inauguration of the new Saybrook University at this week's Residential Conference.
Come join the festivities at the Bayshore Ballroom of the Westin San Francisco Airport Hotel from 7 - 10 p.m, on Friday, January 15.
Look for the balloons - along with your friends and colleagues.