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  1. No way out of the financial hole if it’s business as usual for design. Open Innovation is an inexpensive and fast way to change things quickly and avoid continuing design blunders that threaten to sink the entire organization
  2. I agree, Fred and Jeff. Mostly. Sustainability and viability of any organization, though, especially one recovering from an upheaval and scandal caused by a parasitic, manipulative and myopic former director, demand that steps be taken now to change course, innovate, and build community. (His) Ego is what took the corps to its knees. Now egos must be set aside. Lack of self-awareness of limitations in talent and creativity also must gently be set aside. Not all people are cut out for creativity at this level. Most ideas that seem to work well in high school programs don’t work well under the scrutiny of more sophisticated audiences and on a truly national stage. High school and WGI are echo chambers anyway. Parents clap at anything. Paying fans mostly won’t. Now is also the time to celebrate the energy and talent and grit of the current MMs who are maxing out a deeply flawed and immature show design - a design that, had it been shared widely many months ago - would not have been received well and likely would have been changed. Open Innovation is the answer. If the top leadership at YEA truly is committed to the long term viability of The Cadets, and especially to the current and future marching members, families who support them, and friends, alumni, and donors, and to creating a collaborative environment for staff to do what they do best. It’s time to ZAG. For the good of the organization, and for the future of DCI and and marching arts, a new direction is sorely needed. Recruitment and fundraising also depend on it. Some corps out there is going to Zag and take drum corps into a new/old and more engaging direction. Let’s help make it possible for that corps to be The Cadets.
  3. If there is no receptivity or even acknowledgement from anyone in the organization that an idea is worthy of discussion, you are saying I should get in someone’s face - literally - and interrupt their work to advocate for a great idea? And you consider showing up somewhere without an appointment to talk putting “skin in the game”? I offered Cadets/YEA leadership my volunteer help to implement the idea. Would you suggest I write a big check? What impact on the world would a donation to YEA make at this point, relative to the organization I most support, Doctors Without Borders? I will support a well run innovative and engaging and impactful organization. I’m trying to make that happen. Time and ideas and effort to implement them most definitely are “skin in the game” That’s what a startup is. It’s called sweat equity. First you build a team in consensus about an idea. That’s the stage we are at. Are you on the team, HockeyDad?
  4. Several days ago, I emailed a link to this thread and a brief offer of my volunteer help to the exec director and the general info email at YEA, also asking it to be forwarded to Doug and Scott. No idea how to email to the entire BOD as several of you suggested in private messages. Suggestions? No response from anyone so far. Sigh. Trying to keep my hopes up though. Everyone’s busy, obviously, but now is the time to strategize for 2020 and beyond. Now. “There is no tomorrow!” - Sir Apollo Creed It’s clear to me that what the Cadets lack and have lacked is quality design ideas, whether or not they’ve had the talent to win gold. Most years in the last twenty, they’ve had the talent. No corps has so exasperatingly squandered incredible talent with boneheaded, tasteless, and graceless show design than the Cadets. That must change immediately not just if they are to be The Cadets and consistently contend, but considering their financials, if they are to survive. “Be bold and great forces will come to your aid” - some German guy named Goethe who barely knew how to pronounce his name C’mon Cadets! Who’s able to set ego aside? Who’s able to stop the many-year streak of soap opera high school level designs, and, ahem....be Bold and Beautiful?
  5. If it’s well organized and the procedures are clear, it can work beautifully, as it has in many many other organizations. Sometimes employees are the “cooks” for a while, others it's the general public. Either way it’s a temporarily shared process, then handed back to the Head Chef et al. The idea is a simultaneous know-your-customer campaign, fundraising and alumni engagement, recruitment, and reinvigoration of a new Cadets approach to image, innovation, and show design No one loses for trying this. It adds value, increases engagement, gets people thinking out of the box, creates community creatively. It would only work with a simple, transparent process. Something like this: 9/1-9/15. Open Innovation Competition concept and crowdfunding campaign. Announcement shared widely via social media, and direct outreach to alumni, especially those with music, band, or DCI experience. $5,000 in Round One prize funds solicited from a target of 50% new contributors. If either funding goal isn't reached by 9/15, competition is cancelled and all donations given to the corps. Why? That would mean proof of concept failed, and interest is too limited for the project to be successful. But if goal is reached, the initiative is highly likely to yield useful ideas and increase community engagement. 9/15-9/30 RFP announced, including rules and procedures. No Cadets staff members eligible to submit ideas or receive Round One prizes. All ideas that win prizes become the intellectual property of The Cadets Prizes awarded for winning ideas as follows: $3,000 for winning concept and show design, the more detail the better, and the winner gets to work with the staff design team, ex officio, to hone and expand the idea, that is, if the staff decides to make the winning submission their show design, or some version of that submission. The staff need not be obligated to choose the winner as the 2020 show design. $1,000 for second place $500 for third $100 for five awards for any ideas deemed applicable for 2020 or future seasons 10/1 All proposals are made anonymously and no one but executive director can access during Round One open submission from 10/1 to 10/15. This would enable anyone with conflicts of interest to also participate, because no one in DCI is best served by a struggling Cadets organization, and now is a perfect time to reintegrate tradition with innovation and seek means to incorporate but move past the WGI orthodoxy that may well be alienating as many fans as it is making. All those planning to review submissions are asked but not required to make a small donation, maybe $25 for professionals, $10 for students, are required to present proof of identity, reveal connections with competing corps, and execute simple NDA/NCA obliging them not to share the intellectual property, especially with a competing corps, without consent of YEA. All moneys collected during crowdfunding Round Two should be directed toward expenses related to executing the 2020 show design. 10/16 Submission review. Online sharing of Google Docs or other appropriate virtual team application (Slack, Dropbox, etc.) Review process with weighted voting: Non-staff reviewers 49% of total value assigned Staff reviewers 51% 10/31 Winners announced.
  6. Correct: the funnel of ideation must narrow ideas down and use the crowd/committee to do it. That The One Designer on High must ultimately be responsible doesn’t mean they must Rule. More like a facilitator, striving for consensus, trusting the wisdom of a much larger - though selective and expert - crowd. And for sure the designer is most involved in execution and iteration. Think .38 Special “Hold on loosely, but don’t let it go” The idea is to avoid closed door Star Chambers in which groupthink and ego trump efficacy and creativity and stifle innovation. The idea is to build community and give ownership in the ideas. Open Innovation can be a deliberate rule or procedure based and transparent process, rather than ad hoc “involvement” of people in “the discussion” as I described in the original post. It tends to work. And anything new and interesting like this is bound to get many many people excited, especially uninvolved alumni and supporters, as well as potential MMs.
  7. 2000. I know you’ve seen ineffective design and wasted talent in your first year, and how it changed in 2000. Regarding open innovation, no reason why returning and even potential MMs can’t be involved in contributing ideas. The Toyota my son drives to high school has 210k miles on it in large part because they learned not top down edicts as management, but empowering everyone in the organization to create and innovate. It’s called Kaizen. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaizen Although I don’t worship guns, nor think the 2nd Amendment meant every man woman and child then or now must constitute the “militia”, .38 Special figured it out too: ”...hold on loosely, but don’t let it go / if you cling to tightly, you’re gonna lose control”
  8. For years, I’ve appreciated your insights too. Wise and incisive. So many people love this corps and the activity so much. My hat is off to all of you. But most of all and as always, I am in awe of those who have ever and especially who now wear the uniform and carry forward the tradition of innovation and excellence.
  9. My perspective is different than most on this board. I'm a trained musician, but not a professional. I have been a DCI fan since I marched in high school, but I no longer have a dog in this fight. I am writing because I want the corps that I've loved since 1987 to survive and thrive. I have no inside information. I can only applaud the strength of the community to keep the corps alive and thriving through the last five years of narcissism, neglect and predation from one person (and much of it continued for over thirty years, but the organization was so strong, people swallowed the pain and persisted). So I'm not pointing fingers at anyone, since we all must move on. So people understand a bit about where I'm coming from: I have degrees in four different fields, so I’m a generalist more than a specialist, and my areas of expertise are social entrepreneurship, writing, education and the arts. I've taught a few thousand students over the years at the university level, but I'm no longer an academic and exclusively am now an entrepreneur. I've worked as an open innovation consultant and management consultant for small businesses and non-profits, as well as for non-profits that have over one-thousand employees and for-profit companies valued in the ten figures. I've co-founded three successful companies and two successful non-profits, and three others that failed. I know what usually works, and even more, I know what almost never does. If I were brought in as a management and innovation consultant for YEA and The Cadets, I'd make the following general recommendations. Take them for what they are worth. Since they are freely given, maybe to some they are worth nothing. But if change is to occur, nothing is more important than diversity of ideas. 1. Someone commented recently, quite brilliantly, that a certain former director still seems to be "living rent free in everyone's heads" in the organization. Exactly. Two years of reacting, and as such, some steps forward, and perhaps an equal number back in other areas. Reminds me of 2011 Angels and Demons, great achievements despite the terrible drag on creativity and achievement from the one guy at the "top". The imagery in that show reminds me of a famous quote by Walter Benjamin: "A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress." If The Cadets continue to try to "heal" or represent "healing" or do anything more than just create art, if they try to reckon with the past, or remain too traditional, they will resemble this Klee angel, but I am not even sure they could aspire to Benjamin's hope that it will result in "progress". And on the other hand, if The Cadets continue to try to innovate by imitating - which I believe they are, unsuccessfully and demoralizingly at times - we will have nothing but watered down WGI or Crown/BD/BC wannabes, so they will never exorcise their demons through imitation. 2. The Cadets have the largest, most influential, and longest-tenured group of alumni in all of DCI. No one else is even close. It is unclear how many of them have been engaged beyond volunteering or donating money (and for many of them, not donating money. Yet.) Years of neglect of the alumni because of the way the previous exec director treated them have yet to be fully addressed or mended, it seems. 3. Creative people have big egos, staff included. Great staff have that Achilles heel, and so do mediocre staff. Usually the mediocre people in any organization are mediocre in large part because they are unaware of their own limitations, and overcompensate by being wary of involving others either in the creative process, or in management and execution, or all of the above. So mediocrity can easily breed mediocrity, and in such situations, few want to take a big step back, let ego go, and truly evaluate how and who and what to do differently. New staff are brought on board and they are handed the keys and told to drive. Ego and a desire to change cause a new approach to be followed. Design decisions are made by a very small group of people, and by the time there is a product to respond to, it's too late to change fundamentally, making innovation all but impossible. 4. Potential MMs don't care much about tradition, unless that tradition is recent success. They care even less about having to bear the burden of organizational trauma. In fact, that's the very last thing anyone new would want to deal with. The MM's just want to learn, grow, be great, and will go to that organization which has the best ideas, the best organization, the best leadership, the best alumni support, the most involvement, the most dynamic and different and distinctive experience they can have. Most young people want to look forward, and want to connect with tradition that always has been looking forward. And will go where forward thinking and proven execution and culture empower just that. 5. This year's "closed door" design policy has so far mostly been a disappointment, based on consensus of show reviews as well as scores. Alumni and potential MMs had nothing to go on to get them excited other than join a mostly new staff and "trust them" to come up with something extraordinary. The earlier potential MMs in the Cadets find out about show design and music, the better. In this situation it’s the only real recruitment tool to continue to attract great talent. 6. Most organizations must hit bottom in order to fundamentally change. Cadets have hit bottom. Several bottoms in the last few years. Failure is instructive only if egos can be set aside enough to learn though. 7. Success depends very much on the following: engaging alumni not just for financial support and volunteering, but for creating an engaged environment that is unlike any other corps. Transparency and accountability are key. But that doesn't just mean financials, conduct and governance. It also pertains to creativity. 8. The Cadets should try Open Innovation. In business and the creative world, and across industries, competitions are launched, prizes offered, ideas gathered and evaluated, and in that way, many people are empowered to have a hand and contribute. The wisdom of the "crowd" is a powerful one, especially when the crowd is empowered. This is an oversimplified description of Open Innovation, for sure, but it's basically how it works. You break down organizational walls, invite many others to contribute - some a piece here and there, others much more - continually solicit feeback, iterate and improve, and successful execution is much more likely. And you've created new community along the way. 9 How to conduct show design with Open Innovation? Set up a prize for the winning idea or ideas. Solicit proposals - theme, music, narrative, even drill / staging concepts. Appoint a blue ribbon panel that includes staff - potential staff and actual staff - as well as alumni. Reach out to alumni who work with other corps. If they can't come "home" by joining the Cadets staff and leaving their own, at least they can participate. Simple NDAs/NCAs can be executed to disallow any other corps from "stealing" the ideas generated. Several finalists could be named and as many alumni / donors as possible given a vote, or they pay for their vote (I've seen fundraisers like this, including crowdfunding multi million-dollar movie productions). 10. The Cadets could also host a similar competition for identity and approach. How to move past the current dictatorship of WGI, the ubiquity of spandex, the supposed "simultaneous demand" of body movement, the cliches and overwrought "message", the tired preachiness, the preciousness. Let the alumni and the fans have a voice in deciding what Cadets they want. Maybe traditional uniforms for the hornline? Custom unis for everyone else? So many possibilities. In the organizational world, this would be called a "know your customer" survey, simple market research, but for the Cadets, it's much more than that. There is a disconnect between what management and staff are doing, and what alumni hope for and want, and clearly, what's happening isn't inspiring new members to join as they would five or ten years ago. None of the above has been tried in DCI before - to my knowledge. If the Cadets are to remain and become again the Cadets many of us have loved for decades - the thinking person's drum corps, the vanguard of the vanguard, balancing tradition with innovation, the corps to which all other corps look to imitate - they have to see how everyone else is zigging. Openly, innovatively, the entire Cadets community needs to be empowered to ZAG, just like the tee-shirt from the 80s and 90s. I hope this helps. I'm so proud of the current MMs, and last year too. Incredible work ethic, effort, faith. They've already won the championship in my mind. Now we need to keep learning the lessons from their efforts. They only deserve the best from all of us. Let's make this happen.
  10. Criticism is directed toward the exec, and is based on many many years of behavior that has sharply divided the Cadets family and generates at least as much derision as respect from drum corps fans in general. The MMs are ALWAYS respected and defended. They deserve only the best. FHNSAB!
  11. Wrong. He has a chronic inability to delegate, empower, nurture, and trust subordinates. A clean break and fresh start is needed to reunite the Cadets family and reinvigorate the tradition of education and innovation at championship levels. Period.
  12. I'm always on the side of the MMs. To me, they epitomize the Cadets. So proud. So wanted and want every group of MMs - whether young (this year, 1989, etc) or chock full of vets - to have the absolute best staff and design in DCI. Whether or not they do is the full responsibility of the CEO. FHNSAB
  13. Apathy and frustration do battle in my Cadets heart. Spot on for your list of pandering. SO many missed opportunities over the last 15 years to have achieved greatness, were it not for chronic tastelessness and megalomania at the top of this organization. Many of the embarrassments make me want to rename the exec Corky St. Clair.
  14. Exactly. I believe it is incredibly unfair to current members when music that has been done by the same corps is recycled, because it inevitably leads to unfair comparisons, and inevitably, the current design and corps simply do not measure up to a championship caliber show from a generation ago. It has been an increasingly disturbing and discouraging sign of a lack of creativity from the executive over the last 15 years. It's a sign of weakness and ineptitude, a sure sign that they would like to be parasitic on the past rather than innovate and create. Bernstein shmernstein! Enough Bernstein already! (Hear this in a Brooklyn accent, like Bubbie's) But if you signed the #### contract to do the same #### composer so many times - three friggin years?!?! - you better find new material and a new and illuminating way to do it. No more recycling! Ever.
  15. This. A hundred times over. Current exec's idea of design almost always more closely resembles inept, crass marketing than art. When cadets have won the current exec has had a staff around him with a design too good to hamhandedly meddle with, I'd venture to say. Sadly that kind of situation has been exceptional (2011 seems like ancient history), and in today's reality (sub par staff, young MMs after so many staff and vet MM defections after last years management disaster) they no longer have the creative or marching talent to compete for medals. Wholesale change desperately needed. Now. This year was the last straw, the last gasp of this new "strategy" (if that word is even appropriate), and, I hope and pray, the necessary painful nadir of the Cadets organization. Unfortunately in organizations like this with entrenched longtime leadership, only repeatedly falling flat on your face enables some key people to see, understand, and act in concert to create fundamental organizational change. With current management, Cadets will never contend again and the entire organization's sustainability is threatened. With a new exec and a coming home of key staff and new top notch talent, Cadets WILL contend for medals next year, and annually, and educate and innovate like no one else, which is who the Cadets always were, and always shall be. I call all in the Cadets family to come together, stand as a house united, give new pledges of support, and own the change. I'm so ready to stop pointing fingers and finally be able to roll up my sleeves to help rebuild, but I will do nothing under the current management. "We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we will save our [Cadets]" FHNSAB
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