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La Belle Lisette WEB

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  • 8/4/2019 La Belle Lisette WEB


    A tale of the LAICS Learning Journey:

    The story of "La Belle Lisette" *

    Time passed slowly on the flight to Milan. Lisette poked idly at her food. It was even more

    rubbery than usual, and it was getting hard to tell what was whatthat bouncy cake tasted

    suspiciously of hamburger, while the coq au vin tasted of nothing at all. She sighed, pushing

    the tray away. Just another sign of the fast-food, rat-race times. She prayed the upcoming

    class wouldnt be more of the same.

    Things started looking up when Lisette arrived at the LAICS venue, a beautiful old

    monastery far from the hustle bustle of the Milanese streets. The world had moved back in

    time. Ancient stones with their own stories to tell . . . she hoped to hear a few.

    Her cell phone wasnt workingthe monastery was out of range. At first she panicked

    could the office really function by itself? Yes, of course it could . . . couldnt it? Maybe she

    could turn this into some kind of educational retreat, a time to slow down and take some

    deep dives. Yes, maybe. She smiled and started to relax.

    [Intentional diversity]

    Those people sitting in the foyernot your run-of-the-mill business types. The opposite,

    really. Lots of different clothing styles. Colourful. She was happy about her bright green

    shoes . . . just the place for them. Everyone was happily chatting away. She recognized a

    few from their pictures on the LAICS website. But before she could say hello, someone

    announced that everyone was to head over to the terrazza; apparently there was going tobe some kind of introduction. Quickly she got caught up in the flow.

    She joined Bob from Birmingham and Sven from Stockholmtime for introductions. Digging

    down into her purse, she pulled out the little vial . . . the vial she was sure everyone was

    going to kill for. Lisette Balligand, from Morealyou know, the other cosmetics company. I

    guess Im a strange mixI used to be a biochemist but shifted over to marketing a couple

    of years ago. Now Im a kind of bridger. I help people talk to each other, especially the

    engineers and the sales people. Now, this is what I brought from homelets see if you can

    guess what it is.

  • 8/4/2019 La Belle Lisette WEB


    Looks like skin cream to me, said Bob. Probably a lubricant, said Sven. Bob nodded and

    continued. Makeup? Cant be perfumeunless you think liver smells good. I give up. What

    is it?

    Ah, messieurs. You give up too easily. Let me give you a hint. How old am I?

    Late twenties . . . 35 tops

    Oh, youre so very sweet. Flattery does get you somewhere in my business. No, I just

    turned 54 . . . And not a word to the others. You see, this is the card weve got up our

    sleevean anti-wrinkle cream that really works. Sort of. We havent run all the trials yet,

    but . . . well, I just had to try it after talking with the development group. Unfortunately,

    once it wears off you look older than before. Sacr Bleu! Im hoping those guys are going to

    solve it soon. Really soon. Bob. Sven. Your turn.

    It turned out that pin-striped Bob was from Morten Stanley (yes, the other banking

    company). He was quite a deep thinkerLisette never would have thought that automated

    banking could raise such difficult social questions.

    Sven was even more surprising. From his long whiskery sideburns and old clothes Lisette

    thought he was some kind of factory floor worker. It turned out that he was the head of

    Rollem, an old manufacturer of ball bearings. They were working on some bearings that

    would be almost frictionlesswheels spinning forever. Electricity generation, automobiles,

    joint-makingpretty much everything that was connected to something elsewas about to

    be revolutionized.

    Together, Lisettes little group made some portraiting posters of their discussion. As she,

    Sven, and Bob walked around looking at the other posters in the ancient room, it was

    obvious that this was a very unusual bunch and that there were lots of deep questions

    present. The old stones were talking. They were waking up.

    [Critical book sessions]

    The next morning, Lisette arose feeling better than she had in a long time. Was it the food?

    The company? The air? Everything together? Following breakfast, there was a critical book

    session, where the class discussed Van de Vens book The Innovation Journey. She liked

    that this wasnt your usual memory test session. Instead, she had to spot the weak points

    in the book and talk about how to change them. The sparks were high . . . she was

    discovering a whole new way of thinking about innovation now. What happens when

    innovation becomes novation? When innovation turns into some kind of nova-making, star-

    creation process?

  • 8/4/2019 La Belle Lisette WEB


    [Journal learning]

    After the wonderful luncheven by French standards this was one to rememberthere was

    a journaling session. Apparently journaling was going to be a big part of the education. It

    would be the basis for the various exams and provide background material for the projects

    they would be working on. Which got her wondering. How could she write up her

    experiences, thoughts, and intentions in a way that would help her as an innovative leader?

    She decided shed experiment with different formats; after all, experimenting seemed to be

    the name of the game here.

    [Serious play]

    Dinner was a surprisethey were given some top quality ingredients and asked to make the

    meal. Lisette usually followed recipes, but this time there werent any. Amazingly, dinner

    turned out better than lunch. She could see how different people in the class worked, and

    how some really strange combinations really worked well. What a fine, funny bunch she

    thought. That Swiss guy Pierresuch a joker. Wants to mix Svens bearings with the

    creambearings that never age. Ha! Im going to have to keep my eye on that one.


    After dinner there was a guest star talk, where the fellow whod sent up the first Danish

    satellite talked about his hopes and fears around the massive, cheery fireplace. He was to

    be the first of many guests and faculty who worked with the classthey usually gave small

    talks but spent most of their time working directly with various class groups. That night

    Lisette went to bed dreaming flying dreams.

    [Learning community]

    The rest of the module followed suitdiscussing one anothers interests and issues,

    engaging in critical readings and discussions of innovation theory and practice, formulating

    new initiatives, and forming a learning community.

  • 8/4/2019 La Belle Lisette WEB


    [Innovative project teams]

    Lisette formed a project team with four othersKarina, a division leader from a small

    pharmaceutical company, Patrick who headed up a software group in Dublin, Pia from a

    large Danish media company, and Henrik, a senior design leader at one of the big German

    car companies. She was excited by the groups diversityit looked like she was going to get

    some really good ideas. The groups brief was to find a project that would 1) reflect

    innovation, complexity, and leadership, 2) connect to actual operations in their home

    companies, 3) make a difference, and 4) be doable over the next six months.

    Everyone in Lisettes group felt strongly about their topicdeveloping cross-divisional

    innovation. It was sticky issue in all of their organizations. The trick was going to be how to

    stay innovative around the issuehow to use the issue to create interest and energy

    instead of more headaches.

    Another group in the class was going to work on an Innovation Game. Patrick suggested

    that Lisettes group do something similar: Maybe we could make a Cross Innovation

    Game. Lots of ways to play with the cross theme you knowX marks the spot, cross-

    roads, being hammered to the cross, getting really cross. Lisette was starting to feel a little

    cross-eyed. Time for a bit of journaling?


    Time passed. Lisette had completed three of the modules now and it was assessment time.

    She was happy it would be verbal rather than writtenthis way she could explain her points

    more. Lisette met with two of the LAICS faculty and using her journal, discussed what she

    had discovered, accomplished, learned, and contributed.

    She got high marks for the various ways shed brought her learning back to Moreal. Shed

    managed to orchestrate some effective cross-divisional projects that were giving some of

    the companys products a new twist and she was becoming known for her ability to startnew venture teams.

    And then there was the cream. Sure, Pierres jokes about ageless bearings seemed stupid at

    the time. But it turns out they werent. When you started thinking of bearings as turning

    away forever instead of wearing away, a whole new world opened up. Lisette started

    asking What do wrinkles turn on, and can these turning points change themselves

    somehow? Could wrinkling be spun around? If skin is to turn, what must its turning look

    like? Some of the Moreal chemists got excited by her questions and started quietly playing

    with some answers. Maybe they could make the cream work after all . . . and now Sven

    was wondering how to make his bearings self-regenerating.

  • 8/4/2019 La Belle Lisette WEB


    [Class contribution and leadership]

    Lisettes group also got high marks for their class contr

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