Monday, May 7, 2012

Collectively Thinking (and Acting) Outside of the Box

My day job focuses on the idea of innovation.  I went to a conference session a couple of months ago where the presenter talked about how organizations do or do not foster or accept innovation.  Generally speaking systems are designed (and perpetuated) to create and maintain stability, and thus when new or different ideas are introduced into the system they are not necessarily well received.  Oftentimes the only way for new and different ideas to avoid being immediately squashed is for them to exist outside of the system for a certain amount of time. In essence, people work around the system to do what they judge needs to be done, whether that is an opinion shared by the "Powers that Be" or not. 

As I pondered how this idea affects my professional life, I also considered how the theory applies to creating positive change in Hibbing.  We often seek to affect change through official channels, through city government and other official entities.  This is great and makes complete sense, but the reality is that oftentimes ideas can stall out and die in these systems.  I've also noticed how it can disengage people from a sense of personal responsibility, thinking that X is the job of so-and-so or a particular group.  It's always easier to complain about the job someone else is doing than to take responsibility for making a positive, consistent impact. 

So, while I believe that political engagement and thinking systematically are essential to long-lasting changes; I also believe firmly in the power of individuals to take action outside of official channels. 

So, instead of pointing the finger at city officials or certain organizations and proclaiming what they should do, perhaps we should practice a little introspection and consider what each of us can do to make Hibbing a better place.  Then, taking it a step further, consider how those individual actions can have power when we join forces as a group of like minded citizens, ex-pats, and Hibbing aficionados. 

A tiny personal example of how this type of action can work happened in Hibbing last Thursday (May 3rd).  Two days prior I networked with some friends via Facebook and together we plotted a cash mob for {moxie}, a women's clothing boutique located in the Reed Building on First Avenue (full disclosure: this store is owned and operated by my sister, hence the personal connection).  The mob was a small success (particularly considering the short time frame), although it did not make the news, it was greatly encouraging for the store and also an opportunity for like-minded people to find each other and consider about how this kind of thing could spread community wide. 

Breaking this event down, it focused on something individuals could do irrespective of politics or the bureaucracy of any particular organization, and it drew its strength from these individuals banding together.  This is the conversation and action that I would like to help facilitate. 

Is anyone interested in joining me?  I plan on continuing the conversation here on this blog, and starting tonight on the blog's companion Facebook page (  I hope those of you who *heart* Hibbing will join me. 

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