I am a child of Club Med, that notorious 1970s hotel resort chain created by Gilbert Trigano more than six decades ago. Club Med was built on the concept of all-inclusive vacations so appealing to Brits, but for me, apart from providing fond childhood memories, it symbolised the rare business ability to balance innovation and contemporary needs.
When, almost 30 years later, I met the son of the founder of this iconic venture, Serge Trigano, I could not help but inquire about his new venture, Mama Shelter Group. The inquiry taught me much about how Trigano thought about leading in the hotel world.
Mama Shelter is based on family tradition but transformed by an innovative concept. The group opens restaurants and hotels in less favoured neighbourhoods of prominent French and soon European cities. Its ambition is to create a space synonymous with tolerance and sharing – a space where diversity is embraced and celebrated, not stigmatised.
Trigano said: “When you were born and raised into one particular industry, it actually sticks to you – it becomes what you know, what you are
good or great at. That is the hotel industry for me.’’ [Read More]
Innovation is the only way out and we can all contribute ! A word from Charlie Garland
''Today, just before I opened up my email to find your blog post, I was thinking about the philosophical quandary: "what does one do if life hands you lemons?" Well, there is conventional wisdom, and then there is innovative thinking. Naturally, we in the innovation genre (and others, of course) would respond with our own conventional wisdom: "if life hands you lemons…make lemon-aide!"
Ah, but isn't it time for us to challenge even that conventional wisdom? Isn't it time for us to truly think outside of that box…and reach for even deeper insight…for even greater value…for answers that might just spread a similar type of inspirational innovation to our brothers and sisters everywhere, who rather desperately need just that?
A not-too-famous comedian once said (and I paraphrase): "If life has given you lemons, then go find someone to whom life has given tequila…and make margarita's!" And while I'm sure he meant to be cute and funny (and just a bit provocative, as is his style), he really did touch upon yet a different way of thinking altogether. He challenged the conventional wisdom of how most of us have been programmed to respond to that vexing philosophical question. It is a response that is so "automatic" that, at this point in our society, its lessons are not taken truly to heart. At best, they remind ourselves of how pathetic we are, and how narrow-minded we've been, but rarely if ever does such a restatement of such philosophy have any lasting effect. It's just words.
But one really could explore that question much more interestingly. Let's consider doing just that. Let's not stop at the conventional answer to that question, but rather, let's continue along the very same (or increasingly different) ways of thinking. What (else) can you do if life gives you lemons? Well, you can learn to juggle…we can develop new skills, entertain others, and translate that into our ability to handle more items than we have hands! We can extract the yellow pigment and produce beautiful, bright colors to an otherwise dull, black-and-white (and gray) world around us. We can use the citric acid within the lemon juice to do just about anything that a chemist uses acids for (e.g. cleaning, disinfecting, etching, etc.). And, of course, we can plant the lemon seeds in the ground, nurture them, and watch them blossom into an orchard of lemon trees for future generations to come.
I'm mentioning all this not because I really care so much about lemons (although, now that I've done this bit of brainstorming on them, I'm certainly more caring than I used to be!), but rather because this is the sort of thinking that all of us…in China, in Europe, in USA, in the Middle East, and truly everywhere…need to begin doing. How does it start? It starts from the seeds of innovative thinking that exist within people like you, Marianne. And it starts with the spread of inspiring insights that people like you, and I, and many others in the world have the ability to plant, and nurture, and grow, and help blossom within the communities that we are able to cultivate.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have my morning coffee (or is it merely another form of beverage comprised of water and some plant-borne produce?) to drink, and my thoughts to think. But thank you for helping wake up my brain this morning! :)''
First of all, let me thank you all for your comments on the Manifesto, for sharing your thoughts and showing both passion and strong convictions.
The Manifesto clearly resonated with a lot of you as either a call for change – or a call to talk some sense back into me!
It struck the eternal dilemma of conforming versus expressing your difference.
I am very aware that yes, indeed, we people need heuristics to make sense of the world, to feel somewhat in control of our environment and be accepted. Some would even argue that this pattern creation is rooted in our brain’s very operating mode.
I am aware of all of this…but I cannot help but wonder if we are not taking this to extremes nowadays by increasingly relying on stereotypes.
I cannot help but wonder what happened to the myth of the Renaissance man, a mix of scientist, philosopher, artist and businessman – the well-rounded individual open to diversity. How would he or she be perceived today?
I also question our current ability to foster a new Pascal or a new Da Vinci, multifaceted individuals who had such an important impact on these extraordinary beings were highly instrumental to the Enlightenment, in pursuit of a new and better world.
Let’s face it, if we do not allow for and/or catering to difference, if we systematically close the door to diversity and undermine an individual’s courage to be different, how can we adequately solve problems and innovate?
Let’s push the argument: if we are constraining innovative or creative impulses, how will we even be able to survive in the long term?
Organizations and society alike need a certain number of free spirits able to claim and embrace a different way, able to inspire and push innovation, able to create a path. We all can be that special one in our own way, gently revealing our uniqueness for the greater good.
A very talented lady once told me that innovating and conforming are a difficult balancing act that one needs to master if one want to have an impact. Think in terms of fashion to master the skills, she recommended. Wear a bright red but classically cut Chanel outfit or a super trendy Vivienne Westwood suit – in black. Mix a conformist element with an innovative one and you will create change in a non-threatening way.
To conclude with a more down to earth analogy – dedicated to you Londoners – imagine your life as the escalator at either say Bank or Green Park Tube stations (my favourites). Consider the few people walking on the left hand side of the escalator. They move faster and higher; they choose not to conform, because they are pursuing a different purpose. From time to time, choose to join them.
Sell your leftovers to others for dinner? What an eccentric idea ?
Not so much !
This is the winning concept of Super Marmite! (Marmite is the French word for Cooking pot) a French Start-up.
It is aiming at creating the first location based social network for discovering food in your area.
If you ask me…
This is a brilliant alternative to ready made meals for busy city dwellers, or a great test for Gordon Ramsay’ wannabe abilities! If you are not prone to germaphobia of course.
If one’s can create a business while thinking about… leftovers… we are all entrepreneurs or better said innovators in the making !
What is innovation after all ?
The ability to bring something new to the world. Contrary to what people could think, it does not have to be complicated, complex or out of the blue.
The best ideas are actually coming from a rather simple recipe
and guess what .. Observation !
So get busy now.
Get in tune with you daily environment to identify trends, pain points, problems
Put your thinking hat on to create the simplest solution to the identified problem. Do not over-engineer anything, keep it simple and pragmatic.
Use your research skills to identify competition, define your competitive advantage and assess your chances of financial success….
Everything counts after all… even the leftovers !
About her company, Lead the Future: