This post was written by Margaret Arzon, SEMBA ’17
In SEMBA, we are encouraged to connect and learn from other social entrepreneurs that are currently driving business to create a social and environmental good. As part of an assignment for our Entrepreneurial Leadership and Mindset class with Dita Sharma, my classmate Julie Allwarden and I sat down with the owner of Pingala restaurant, Trevor Sullivan, to talk about what inspired his business.
What can we do when we need to be creative, but it’s not there? We’ve all had it, be it writer’s block, artist’s block, entrepreneurial block, etc., the dreaded block is a creative type’s worst nightmare. What if we had a way to break through this block that was fun, easy, and took less than 10 minutes to complete? It may sound crazy, but I shared a tool with my SEMBA classmates this March that touched on all these requirements. I call it On Demand Creativity.
The alternative uses task, as it is more commonly named, was created by J.P. Guilford in 1954. At its very core, the task looks at an everyday object and aims to discover alternate uses for that object. For example, a paperclip’s primary use is to bind papers together. A paperclip may alternately become a ring, necklace, or earring. Within eight minutes, alone or in a group, one can look for as many of these uses for a paperclip, or other object, as possible. The aim is number of ideas generated. As a byproduct of looking for the highest number of alternatives, creativity starts to flow. Questions are asked: how many paperclips am I allowed? Can I manipulate them? How much time am I allowed to make the new object? Is it just me or can many people work on this? Over time, assumptions are either created or shattered, and in this brief timeframe, our minds open up to new possibilities and our proverbial creative juices get flowing.
“Connectivity is productivity,” a mantra which has guided entrepreneur Iqbal Quadir to put cell phones in the hands of over 100 million Bangladeshi people. A country once thought to be synonymous with poverty is now seeing unprecedented economic growth due, in part, to the success of Iqbal Quadir and his venture, Grameen Phone, a micro-loan based company which allows those at the base of the pyramid access to modern communication. Iqbal, who is a SEMBA advisory board member, visited the SEMBA class as part of the Entrepreneur in Residence series. He proved to be a model of the disruptive and visionary values that SEMBA represents. He demonstrated that capital is not the source of innovation and development; rather, development is the source for capital.
Here’s an article by our very ownProfessor Stuart L. Hart in which he writes about the Jungian concept of enantiodromia and tells us what business must do going forward.
Hart stresses that the majority of corporate growth (and later, profits) comes from new strategic initiatives rather than from the continuing development and improvement of existing businesses.
We must refocus our attention on new, transformational strategic moves (or initiatives).Rather than chasing the fantasy of rating entire corporations as to their “sustainability,” let us instead shift the “unit of analysis” and spend more time understanding (and driving) the Green Leap – new strategic initiatives within corporations focused on leapfrog, clean technology and disruptive new business models that serve and lift the poor.
This post was written by Margaret Arzon, SEMBA ’17
“It’s better to light one candle than curse the darkness. I think that’s where movements are started.”
– Shawn Heinrichs
Margaret feeding a cow in Haridwar, India
Growing up I would not touch anything that even resembled a vegetable. My Puerto-Rican and Cuban roots offered daily dishes of fried meat or chicken with rice and beans. At 21, I stopped eating meat for health reasons which slowly transformed into ethical concerns. Three years later, I read a book called “Vegan Freak” which revealed to me the atrocities and environmental havoc of not just the meat industry, but dairy and eggs as well. Sometimes once you know something, there is no degree of feigning ignorance that could turn you away from the truth. I immediately eliminated all animal products from my life, including eggs, dairy, wool and leather. People around me told me I was silly, expressed concern for a lack of protein and gave disapproving looks with my lunch plate filled with just veggies. However, I knew the only way to save our dying planet was to stop pillaging that which is not ours to take.
When Google decided to shift to 100% renewable energy, it worked directly with wind and solar farms to sign deals. A new U.K.-based startup called Squeaky lets small businesses easily do the same thing at a smaller scale—business owners can choose a wind farm to support, and then start buying renewable electricity at the same price they were paying for energy from fossil fuels.
The rapid growth of independent renewable generators, driven by the falling cost of wind and solar, makes a platform like Squeaky possible.
North Face and Patagonia are both wrestling with a consequential paradox, one that is central to contemporary consumerism: we want to feel morally good about the things we buy. And both companies have been phenomenally successful because they have crafted an image that is about more than just being ethical and environmentally friendly, but about nature, adventure, exploration – ideas more grandiose than simply selling you a jacket, taking your money and trying not to harm the earth too much along the way. But the paradox is that by presenting themselves this way, they are selling a lot more jackets. In other words, both companies are selling stuff in part by looking like they’re not trying too hard to sell stuff, which helps them sell more stuff – and fills the world with more and more stuff.
Click to register for this free, informative webinar
Over the past 25 years, most major business schools have added some kind of program focused on sustainability, corporate citizenship, or social entrepreneurship, though they are not integrated into the core DNA of the institution.
The University of Vermont’s Sustainability Entrepreneurship MBA (SEMBA) is unique in that it fundamentally reinvents business education and the MBA degree to address the urgent sustainability challenges we face in the 21st century. The curriculum is focused 100% on sustainable innovation and entrepreneurship. In this webinar, Professor Stuart Hart will describe the design and significance of the SEMBA — a 12 month, AACSB-accredited program focused on developing the next generation of business leaders who will innovate enterprises to move us more rapidly toward a sustainable world. Vinca Krajewski, a SEMBA graduate and currently Associate Brand Manager at Seventh Generation, will describe her experience in the program and how it has uniquely prepared her to be a changemaker for sustainable innovation.