From the ridiculous to the sublime

A week ago the Internet was buzzing with debate about the colour of a dress.

Today the Salvation Army turned it into a provocative and thought-provoking advertising campaign about domestic violence.

It’s a brilliant piece of creative subversion that the Salvation Army should be applauded for, enabled by close monitoring of trends; creative expertise; swift decision-making and good management of media channels.

Combine all those things together in one team and it’s amazing what can be achieved – from Oreo’s taking of Twitter by storm after a Superbowl power cut to the kind of rich coverage of a serious social issue we’ve seen today.

It’s also a great illustration of why I love the Internet – you can go from the utterly ephemeral to the most complex and serious of stories in a moment.

And often when you’re least expecting it.

Leadership and Open Innovation

Yesterday, Innovation Excellence published a forthright post by Paul Sloane about the factors impeding the growth of open innovation. IE lays the responsibility squarely on CEOs, who, the post argues, say all the right things about innovation, but aren’t following up with enough action.

The post made me think of this profile of Jack Welch, reflecting on his time as chairman and CEO of General Electric. Towards the end of the film he talks about how he saw his role as leader, as moving around the corporation “with a can of water in one hand and a can of fertilizer in the other”, using his knowledge, experience and expertise to help the companies and people who make GE to grow.

I’ve never worked for GE, so I’ve no idea how closely Jack Welch’s perception of his role matched the reality of what he did, but what is interesting is that of the few companies Paul Sloane names as making strides forward in open innovation, GE is on the list.