On September 27, I had the honor of being invited to do a presentation at Columbia Business School, my M.B.A. alma mater, sponsored by the Social Enterprise Club and the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs. It was an opportunity to talk about the role of creativity in business. In the presentation, I focused on a discussion of the founding of Big Apple Circus using a decision making process filled with rich and varied ideas pulled from various artistic and business traditions.
Imagine how thrilling it was to be leading a group in one of the very classrooms that I sat as a student! Retracing my journey to create the Big Apple Circus was the way I chose to approach useful lessons for a group of future M.B.A.s
The Big Apple Circus is a business whose product is the result of a creative process. Also, because creativity has been encouraged in our business, the decision making process is filled with rich and varied ideas that allow us to see the market place through a similar creative process.
From an entrepreneurial perspective, I opened the presentation for discussions on
• following one’s passion
• having a mission that includes a willingness to look beyond the bottom line.
• focusing employees on the big picture, on the “human side” of whatever business they are in.
The group’s questions were penetrating and lively. Columbia Business School students are smart and focused. What was most interesting is that they were extraordinarily curious about how they could bring creativity to the decision making process. Because of my experience of having run a management team that was focused on creative solutions, I found it thrilling and deeply satisfying that the students thought that such a discussion was vital.
The business lessons that emerged from the discussion were:
• how to manage diversity
• the importance of balance in supporting a team
• the role of team decision making, organizational productivity, and personal fulfillment as principles of enlightened management
AND, returning to the theme of creativity…how improvisation can play a useful a role in creative decision making.
A truly super day!