By Dale S. Laszig
DSL Direct LLC
Innovation can be likened to a commodity; there's so much of it going around. We've all observed emerging technologies and new business models disrupting payments and other industries. Can we go beyond the obvious and delve deeply into the topic to harness innovation in our own careers?
Taimour Zaman, founder and Global President of One Million Acts of Innovation, created a series of conference calls to shed light on this topic and to introduce the massively transformative statement (MTS) concept.
The MTS concept sprang from Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler's book Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World. The authors called their creation a massively transformative purpose (MTP) and claimed that anyone who had an MTP had the power to change the world. Zaman went further by articulating the MTP into an actionable statement. He offered two examples of famous MTSs: Mahatma Gandhi's "India shall be free" and Google's "Organizing the world's data."
Believing the MTS idea could bring tremendous benefits to communities worldwide, Zaman began organizing. "I decided to put together a series of global conference calls, inviting some of the philosophers, university instructors, technology CEOs, artists and seminar leaders in my rolodex," he said.
Zaman said an MTS tells the story behind an individual or organization's purpose and includes the following 10 attributes. It:
Zaman described the new conference call series as an open inquiry into innovation and creating massive change. He further noted that once the calls were completed he would gladly "give anyone who attended a copy of our recipe and how to think big and come up with massively disruptive mission statements.
"We are limiting each call to eight people so that the call can be rich and intimate," he added. "The insights from these calls will become part of our next global movement, and our findings and research will be used in our work with bold and disruptive companies."
Each call's participants were given a series of questions in advance of the conference. The questions were designed to spur people to think exponentially. Here are some examples:
I participated in one call in the series with Zaman and guests who included a philosopher/ psychoanalyst (Steve), songwriter/recording artist (John), and business executive (Beth). Despite our different backgrounds, the group rapidly achieved a rapport and found broad areas of consensus.
Zaman suggested that most innovation falls into three categories: Duh, Aha and Wow. One example he provided of a "wow" involved Michael Dell who disrupted the personal computer industry by selling laptops directly to consumers at remarkably discounted prices.
The group agreed that the best projects begin with a sense of wonder and we each shared examples of several projects that had inspired us. Beth mentioned a student who came up with the idea of producing coats that double as sleeping bags, and then employed homeless people to help make these products. This was a project that could both improve their quality of life and put them on a path to sustainability. Steve talked about Google's Project Loon, which involves launching a global network of balloons into space that will bring Internet access to remote areas. It's estimated that two thirds of people in the world are without Internet access. This project was devised to solve that problem. That's a big "wow."
Burnout is a common challenge for budding entrepreneurs and artists alike. Zaman asked participants how they get out of their work mode. John described a three-pronged approach: meditate, walk through nature and observe the world from a horizon or vista.
"Nature is a relaxed, surreal and happy place that's far away from the phone," he said. "And seeing faraway places can also expand mental horizons." He added that a refreshing break can bring a new perspective to day-to-day tasks, keep the love there and make each day fun.
On a larger scale, the group agreed it isn't always easy for traditional organizations to refresh and renew by shifting gears or examining new ideas. Traditional corporate structures typically involve elements of greed, short-term thinking and resistance to change, all of which may make them more susceptible to disruption.
"It takes a special kind of leader to foster genuine disruption of a core business," Steve said. "The first step is looking at what you're saying no to." He cited John King, Dave Logan' and Halee Fischer-Wright's book Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization as an example of how leaders can leverage various naturally occurring coalitions within a corporate structure to create meaningful change. The book identifies five stages of collective perceptions of an organization ranging from "life sucks" to "life is great."
Zaman offered the following questions to aid in creating an MTS:
For most MLSs, the answer to the above questions is a resounding yes. In an age of startups and exponential growth, this may be a perfect time for payment pros to craft their own MTSs.
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