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87cadet

Open Innovation and The Cadets

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18 hours ago, 87cadet said:
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.

 

Speaking of 'one person', he has a court hearing tomorrow (Wed pm), with trial scheduled to start Friday.   Depending on the hearing, trial could well be postponed ('continued' is the legal term) - happens quite often depending on the schedule of the judge & both counsel.  Or, if a plea deal happens tomorrow will probably be the day.  If trial does start Friday first thing will be jury selection; maybe opening arguments.  Witnesses likely to start Monday.

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3 minutes ago, IllianaLancerContra said:

Speaking of 'one person', he has a court hearing tomorrow (Wed pm), with trial scheduled to start Friday.   Depending on the hearing, trial could well be postponed ('continued' is the legal term) - happens quite often depending on the schedule of the judge & both counsel.  Or, if a plea deal happens tomorrow will probably be the day.  If trial does start Friday first thing will be jury selection; maybe opening arguments.  Witnesses likely to start Monday.

This is what the OP said: 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.

 

and IllianaLancerContra went exactly there rather than to contribute to the major part of the discussion. You only fed the cancer, for what reason I don't know but might wonder.

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3 minutes ago, exitmusic said:

OP, I'm with you in spirit, except as any experienced entrepreneur will tell you, design-by-committee has never actually worked.

One person has got to be ultimately responsible for design. Suggestion box? Sure, but design-by-vote? Total disaster IMO.

While I have always believed this (and experienced it), I'd like to suggest that you listen to the Dean Westman interview on Marching Roundtable.  The Bluecoat design process seems as collaborative as it can get.  There is a leadership method that can give all members of the "team" a meaningful role, without being "design-by-committee".  This seems especially true in creative environment. 

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Just now, xandandl said:

This is what the OP said: 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.

 

and IllianaLancerContra went exactly there rather than to contribute to the major part of the discussion. You only fed the cancer, for what reason I don't know but might wonder.

I didn't feel he was worthy of having a post titled after him.  Just a news reminder & opinion

Sometimes a post is just a post.

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2 hours ago, xandandl said:

This is what the OP said: 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.

 

and IllianaLancerContra went exactly there rather than to contribute to the major part of the discussion. You only fed the cancer, for what reason I don't know but might wonder.

“That is what he said”.

”That is what Abraham Lincoln said”.

Edited by drumcorpsfever
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3 hours ago, xandandl said:

Question is why this thread ires you so and why you feel compelled to throw a verbal tantrum by participating in the thread? By-passing the thread is also an option, one you chose not to take.  The OP took a bit more time to reflect, contribute, and consider the future of the organization.  As the Madison thread has shown, sorting future questions from season 2019 can be a bit muddled on DCP.

it's drum corps. Someone somewhere has to complain about something

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1 minute ago, IllianaLancerContra said:

"Other than that, how was the play, Mrs Lincoln?"

Tragedy + time = comedy. 

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4 hours ago, exitmusic said:

OP, I'm with you in spirit, except as any experienced entrepreneur will tell you, design-by-committee has never actually worked.

One person has got to be ultimately responsible for design. Suggestion box? Sure, but design-by-vote? Total disaster IMO.

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.  

 

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7 hours ago, PamahoNow said:

While I have always believed this (and experienced it), I'd like to suggest that you listen to the Dean Westman interview on Marching Roundtable.  The Bluecoat design process seems as collaborative as it can get.  There is a leadership method that can give all members of the "team" a meaningful role, without being "design-by-committee".  This seems especially true in creative environment. 

Somewhere today on one of the many DCP dialogical threads referenced Chandler often twittering things from the Fashion World where he oft finds his inspiration. Might this be 2020?

https://us.france.fr/en/provence/list/jacquemus-lavender-fields-provence?utm_source=ECRM_AtoutFrance&utm_campaign=US_GP_CLUBFRANCE_JULY_2019&utm_medium=email

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