Kensei

Two Heavens in One

Two Heavens in One

In our country, it is the Way of the Warrior to wear them whether the reason is understood or not – Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings (translated by William Scott Wilson)

All samurai wore two swords. In fact the two swords are the symbol for the entire samurai social class. I’m sure there were many samurai that never questioned why there are two swords. Some may have questioned the purpose only to accept the conclusion that it has always been so. Then there is Miyamoto Musashi, the only samurai deserving of the title kensei, Japanese for sword saint.
He challenged tradition. He decided that both swords should be used. Instead of the traditional method of gripping one sword with both hands, he innovated by holding a sword in each hand. Thus allowing him to use both swords at a time.

When you put your life on the line, you want all your weapons to be of use. Your real intent should not be to die with weapons uselessly worn at your waist.  – Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings (translated by William Scott Wilson)

Don’t be like the other samurai who were blind to the fact that their greatest resource was at their tied at their waist. There is always untapped resources around you. Most often it’s the people.
Open your eyes. People are multifaceted. Everyone can offer insight drawn from different aspects of their life. Solutions to problems can often be found when someone on the team draws from their experience from the  rock climbing adventures over the weekend, the book they’ve been reading, or what they learned at the whiskey tasting event yesterday evening.
Be receptive to suggestions and breed an environment that doesn’t discourage risky ideas.

Unbridled enthusiasm for new, risky ideas is just as dangerous as a complacent attitude. Allow your workforce to pursue a variety of interests but also communicate extensively the purpose of this initiative. This will focus the combined processing power of your entire workforce and evoke inspiration in places you wouldn’t have imagined.

Into the Unknown

It’s the first year anniversary of Felix Baumgartner freefall his way into the history books.

I just finished watching the documentary of mission.

Felix Baumgartner making his historic jump

Picture of Felix Baumgartner. Taken from: http://www.universetoday.com/97972/

Watch it here: http://stratos.rdioexclusives.com/documentary

(Not sponsored by Red Bull, Rdio, or anyone for that matter.)

Branding

Red Bull made the loudest branding move by being quiet and in the background. Take out a pen and paper: people love good content; people hate having something shoved in their face. Watch the documentary again, watch the Q&A video again, and watch the media coverage again. You’ll find that Red Bull was hardly pushed to the forefront.

Innovation

Disrupt, innovate, and revolutionize are overused words in the startup world. When you actually do something no one has done before, that’s innovation. If you looked at all the preparation and practice jumps, you’ll notice that there is a gradual progression in reaching the final jump. Another thing pointed out during the Q&A (http://stratos.rdioexclusives.com/landing) is that no one will likely break the records set by Felix. Basically, innovations are hard to come by. Luckily, innovations are overrated. Take their approach of gradually improving to reach a goal and apply it to any industry, product or service. Sometimes, to be a successful entrepreneur just means taking some existing thing and improving upon so much that you become an expert.

But then again, it doesn’t hurt to really land an innovation, doing something no one ever has.

Team culture

Through all the ups and downs of the Redbull Stratos team, what kept them together? What made the team trust in the figurehead of the project after Felix quit because of his anxieties in the suit?

Everyone on the team served a greater purpose. This was what motivated them to stay the 12 hour shifts. This greater purpose will also motivate employees through the tough, grueling days. Inspire them. Give them a grand vision.

Entropy

Entropy is the amount of disorder a system has.

Disorder can be detrimental. But some level of disorder is important, even needed, for generating new ideas and being creative.

New, exciting materials are first created because of chemical reactions. These reactions can only occur when molecules interact and collide with one another with sufficient energy.

A Crystal Lattice

Let’s consider for a moment the converse: a perfectly ordered system. In chemistry, a perfectly ordered system would be a crystalline latticed structure at absolute zero – the molecules are completely stationary. Entropy is zero.

These molecules cannot move around or recombine into new molecules. New things cannot be created in this environment. If we put this into the context of an organizational structure, we would find a bureaucratic and hierarchical environment. When an organization is highly structured and bureaucratic, new ideas and innovations can get stifled and suffocated.

Introducing entropy to an ordered and organized system will help the system become more conducive to creativity and innovation. When a shock to the system is not opposed and embraced, budding ideas will be able to interact with each other, morph, recombine, evolve and grow into full-fledged working ideas. Innovation and creativity are sparked.

Be wary not to introduce too much entropy. When the idea-nurturing environment is in disarray, ideas will die and get lost in the chaos.