SI Cover April 2014

I’m excited to announce that we’ve published the inaugural issue of Symphonic Insights, a collection of curated content we found insightful, compelling, and just downright intriguing. Each month we will collect things we believe to be worthy of your time and attention. We hope, in time, you will count on us to sort through the noise and bring you things that make you think.

We’re using the Flipboard App to distribute the magazine. To be honest, I’d recommend you get the free app. It’s pretty cool. You can also view it on the web.

Whatever device you use, we hope you enjoy the April issue.

When you do, please subscribe to the magazine so we can alert you each month when the new one comes out.

Enjoy. And let me know what you think.






A.J. Robinson

Inside this issue

Innovation Church: The Tie That Binds

This piece artfully and passionately describes why the search for meaning and the confirmation that we’re pursuing something meaningful makes so many of us happy. Innovation church is about the evangelical experience that comes from “reach[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][ing] the end of our days celebrating that we were part of something that mattered.” Are you creating an environment where people find meaning embedded in the shared pursuit of something extraordinary? Or is it just a job?

Can We Have it All?

In this TED Talk, public policy expert Anne-Marie Slaughter extends her argument that we won’t be able to “have it all” until we redefine what it means to invest in the social and familial infrastructure that lie at the root of great societies. Listen to how she describes the need for a new cultural narrative in American discourse. Are you investing in the kind of social and familial infrastructure that will enable your family to thrive? What kind of emotional bridges and social networks have you set up for your friends and family?

Change Leader, Change Thyself

This quick read by Nate Boaz and Erica Ariel Fox (McKinsey Quarterly) gets right to the point. “To achieve collective change over time [your change strategy]…must address the underlying mind-sets and capabilities of the people who will execute it.” All change is local, and Boaz and Fox offer an interesting perspective on what they call “profile awareness.”  How aware are you of your own personal profile?

The Innovative Beat of Corporate Social Intrapreneurs

From Forbes comes an interesting piece about social intrapreneurs, defined as “people within a large corporation who take direct initiative for innovations that address social or environmental challenges while also creating commercial value for the company.” Is this the next frontier beyond traditional corporate social responsibility? Being a social intrapreneur requires an ability to know your theater of performance pretty well, and to have at your disposal the tools to move the crowd. Do you possess either?

Wynton Marsalis on the Soul of Jazz

Marsalis is the living embodiment of what it means to know your history. I often encourage my students and clients to know the history of their theaters of performance, paying careful attention to note the seminal moments that shaped contemporary performers and performances. In this piece, Marsalis says something that made me sit up. “To gain…a[n] important understanding of our collective past, it’s important to search for the echo of that past in our own experiences. There, we find the common symbols that allow us to grasp the fundamental meaning of the aspirations we share with our ancestors.” And then, he dropped the mic and walked off stage.  At least, that’s how I imagine it.

Sha Hwang, the Designer Hired to Make Obamacare a Beautiful Thing

Those who know me know I’m a fan of people who can take complex information and simplify it so that the rest of us can understand what it means. Making complexity look beautiful and less intimidating is a valuable leadership skill.  This article describes the “little things” Hwang did to make not just more beautiful, but more accessible and, hence, more functional. It’s a great example of the power of design to make the infrastructure for collective action useful. How good are your design skills?

The (Fake) Conspiracy to Overthrow the World’s Autocrats (the Atlantic)

If you don’t think cultural narratives matter, this article will challenge you. There is a widely believed and widely circulated narrative pushed by leaders like Vladmir Putin, Bashar al-Assad, Kim Jong-Un and others that those in the West who promote democracy, document and report human rights violations, advocate for a free and independent press, and fight against the oppression of ethnic minorities are simply agents of a Western conspiracy to rule the world. Who, you ask, are they talking about? NGOs. It’s a short story about the presence and use of narratives to shape identity and to influence collective behavior. So, what’s your organization’s story?

Can Rebekka Bay Fix the Gap?

Businessweek recently published an issue devoted entirely to design. This piece tells the story about the effort underway by Rebekka Bay, the new creative director at the Gap, to turn around this American brand icon. For those who are interested in the intersection of brand, culture, and change this story offers an interesting glimpse into the inner workings of an American business.

Sarajevo: The Crossroads of History

History. Seminal moments. Symbols. Socially constructed identities. This piece has all of these elements and more. It is a great example of why leadership is about looking to the past to understand the present so we can shape the future.

7 Trade Secrets to How Creative People Constantly Stay Innovative

Paul Hudson writes in Elite Daily that “staying creative and innovative takes a whole lot of focus and some smart thinking.” Well, Paul, tell me more.

The Innovation of Loneliness

I found this very interesting video on Vimeo. If the title alone isn’t enough to intrigue you, take my word for it: This video will make you think. When it comes to our social connections, is it about quantity or quality?

Words by Rakim

Okay, so this one is for hip hop fans out there like me who approach life with “soul.” Don’t be fooled. Lyrics and narratives matter. Like Rakim, what do you bring to the room that can move the crowd and make them follow the leader?

Everything is a Remix, Part 3

This video has been around a while, but it still speaks to me. We teach our kids not to copy, but to be original. Is it possible that true originality comes from a “foundation of knowledge and understanding” as the producer of this video argues? If you think you understand the true roots of creativity, check out this video and hear why copying, transforming, and combining are the real roots of innovation.

Innovation in Healthcare

This article offers a glimpse into how people in the United Kingdom are thinking about innovation in the healthcare field. Michael Macdonnell, a columnist for The Guardian, argues that NHS England needs to adopt a “platform strategy” like Apple’s App Store and “focus on creating the environment, infrastructure and incentives to enable providers and patients to co-create better ways of delivering care.” Hmmm. What if we created a platform strategy for social innovation in America’s urban core?

Scandimania, Stipsters, and Social Business

We often talk about the importance of creating environments where cooperative values and cooperative behaviors can flourish. Well, it looks like Scandinavia has managed to do just this. In another interesting article from The Guardian, Charlotte Seager briefly explores the roots of what are described as “social businesses” in Scandinavia.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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