Hope and Goodwill

This post is an archive of the Growth Through Disruption newsletter sent April 23, 2020. Click here to subscribe and join tens of thousands of leaders across the globe growing through disruption together.

I’m a fan of The Crown; you may have picked up on that previously. And this is a good time to binge watch favorite series; I’m sure many of you have noticed that too.

Season 3, Episode 4 is titled “Bubbikins,” Queen Elizabeth’s mother-in-law’s pet name for her son, Prince Philip. Here’s some backstory and a takeaway—or maybe two—from my most recent viewing:

Prince Philip is ashamed of his mother. He doesn’t want her to be in full view of the public, and certainly not in the lens of the British press. But they get hold of her anyway, despite his intent to keep her under wraps. Turns out Philip’s mum, Princess Alice, is a bit of a case. Congenitally deaf, and therefore to some degree marginalized her entire life, she has also spent some torturous days in a variety of mental institutions, the object of the unscientific, counterproductive treatments of the time. Nobody’s sure if she’s really become a nun, but she’s intensely religious (cause enough for shame to many) and has taken to wearing a nun’s habit. The press refers to her as the Royal Saint.

But Philip has misjudged her, as we often do misjudge our parents and other people too. The religiosity and eccentricity that embarrass him are really Princess Alice’s superpowers. Before being forced to leave her longtime home of Greece due to political upheaval—overthrow of the monarchy actually—and seek asylum under her daughter-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, Alice had founded a convent, and developed a reputation for good works that extended back at least to WWII. The TV episode diverges from history in not revealing that she had sheltered a Jewish family when the Germans occupied Greece, for which she has, in the real world, been honored as one of the Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem. She used her deafness as a defense against Nazi interrogators who suspected her of harboring. Nothing embarrassing about that.

Princess Alice reminds me that if there’s a silver lining to the dark cloud of COVID-19, it’s likely found in the many reminders that humans are intrinsically hopeful and, at their best in even the worst circumstances, inclined to do good to each other. It is our superpower as a species and something to celebrate.

Our podcast this week features Alex Osterwalder, entrepreneur and consultant, and part of the brain trust of the Business Model Canvas. Alex has some great insights into the interaction of creativity/ideas and execution over the course of an S Curve of Learning.

At the low end, we are focused almost entirely on the future. We have to be. We’re trying something new, trying to create, and we’ve got to have a portfolio of ideas. It doesn’t matter that not all of them are good; abundance is the word. But we have to give some attention to execution too, or we’re stuck at the drawing board.

By the time we get to the high end of the curve, we’ve brought our ideas to fruition, mastered our processes and we’re focused on execution. Keeping the ball rolling. If we’re over indexed on ideation at the low-end, we won’t thrive. No revenue. If we’re only focused on executing our business model at the high end, we’ll get disrupted. No innovation. If we can balance execution on our current business model while still allocating resources to being discovery driven—brainstorming, creating, testing, adapting—we are really in the sweet spot.

The conversation with Alex resonates with earlier podcast episodes (Mark JohnsonRita McGrathKaihan Krippendorff to name a few). The pandemic is pushing our team to think even more about how we provide guardrails for today, while helping people grow and disrupt for tomorrow. What are the products, teaching and tools that will be needed? And how can we allocate time and resources to experiment a bit while we execute with excellence on our current plan? Important questions for all of us, with some thoughtful ideas from Alex. Please tune in.

My best,

P.S. As some parts of the world are still on lockdown from the COVID-19 pandemic even as other parts are starting to open up, you may need some encouragement to keep prioritizing your own self-care and mental wellness. If so, click here.

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