Symphonic Insights (May 2014)

In this issue we feature stories about the “imagination differential” in Africa, the life story of Keni Washington (and the fight over racial integration on college campuses in the 1960s), Kevin Feige and the turnaround at Marvel Studios, Elizabeth Warren and her journey from professor to U.S. Senator, and Fat Baby and the growing popularity of American football in China.

Inside this issue:

Africa’s Tech Edge

[ut_blockquote_left] “…necessity drives creativity, and institutional failures accelerate the process of experimentation and problem solving.” [/ut_blockquote_left] In “Africa’s Tech Edge,” author Dayo Olopade explores “how…a continent still struggling to guarantee clean water and reliable electricity beat Silicon Valley to this groundbreaking mobile solution?” Olopade recounts a recent experience with M-Pesa, one of Kenya’s largest mobile payment services, and he uses M-Pesa to illustrate what he describes as the ”
[ut_highlight color=”#1e73be”] imagination differential [/ut_highlight] .” He writes, “I came to a conclusion both surprising and obvious: necessity drives creativity, and institutional failures accelerate the process of experimentation and problem solving.” Olopade is right. Imagination is often one of the keys to innovation. The question is how can we inspire more people to imagine? That is the collective action question.

What They Stood For

Mike Antonucci, writing in Stanford Magazine, tells the compelling story of Keni Washington, “one of only 10 African-American in the 1964 freshman class.” The article is appropriately titled, “What They Stood For.” Washington’s story is a powerful example of the

[ut_highlight color=”#1e73be”] social construction of identity [/ut_highlight] . His life story includes integrating Sigma Chi, a white fraternity that had never admitted an African American pledge since its founding in 1855, confronting racism and bigotry on the Stanford campus and surrounding community, and eventually leading student protests on campus immediately following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Pow! Bang! Bam! Plan to Save Marvel, Starring B-List Heroes

In 2010, Disney purchased Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion. At the time it was largely seen as a bad move. Marvel Entertainment had sold the rights to many of its most popular comic heroes, such as Spider Man and X-Men. The company had been repeatedly sold and acquired by a long list of entities dating as far back as 1968. Marvel even filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1994. Despite the company’s turbulent history, it has recently emerged as a remarkable story itself of change and transformation. Under the leadership of Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios (a division of Marvel Entertainment), the company has emerged as an entertainment powerhouse. Devin Leonard writes in BloombergBusinessweek about why Feige is seeing such success. “He has a special understanding of comics, fans, superheroes, and narrative.” But its the strategic and tactical moves that Feige has made that makes this story a good case study of the

[ut_highlight color=”#1e73be”] importance of organizational identity and remaining true to a compelling brand identity [/ut_highlight] . Feige has managed to engage his character’s core constituencies, inspiring a sense of deep loyalty and commitment from them in the process. He has been able to establish a base for Marvel, moving the crowd and forging a promising future for Marvel.

Elizabeth Warren Is the Teacher

Charles P. Pierce, crafts a rich and compelling portrait of Elizabeth Warren, the Senator from Massachusetts. Pierce’s article in Esquire describes the tremendous learning journey that has marked Warren’s life and career. From her early years as a law professor working on bankruptcy projects to her campaign for the Senate,

[ut_highlight color=”#1e73be”] Warren is a symphonic leader™ [/ut_highlight] . This article offers a true glimpse behind the scenes into the working of the symphonic mind.

Year of the Pigskin

The final piece I want to highlight comes from the New Republic. Author Christopher Beam writes about the “day of the first game of American football ever played in Chongqing, China.” He offers us an extremely detailed story about the emergence of American football in China and its link to the growing sense in that country that what it means to be Chinese is fundamentally changing. Through the colorful exploits on and off the field by characters like Fat Baby, Bobo, and Marco the article captures the rich nuance of  identity and its formation and reformation in modern China.

[ut_highlight color=”#1e73be”] Beam’s story is one about engagement, social bonds, and the importance of feeling connected in a world of growing complexity. [/ut_highlight]
By | 2017-02-09T09:09:33+00:00 May 1st, 2014|Symphonic Insights Magazine|0 Comments