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Guest Thinkers

Cirque Du Soleil and the problem of Too Much Innovation

First of all, let me say that I love Cirque Du Soleil and I’ve been to one of their shows in New York City and one of their shows in Las Vegas. I’ve also rented a few of their DVDs on Netflix and consider them to be one of the most innovative performing artist groups in the world. (They were also mentioned in Blue Ocean Strategy as leading-edge innovators, which is pretty cool.) Which is why I was absolutely stunned – in a negative way – by their performance as part of the pre-game entertainment before the Super Bowl last night.

Quite simply, the performance was a mess. In my opinion, the organizers of the entertainment tried to blend together way too many thematic elements – at the same time as the Cirque Du Soleil performers were on the field, some sexy Latin singer was on a separate stage doing her thing and people completely unaffiliated with Cirque Du Soleil were running around the field, displaying artwork from a local Miami artist. Moreover, the circus performers were “dumbed down” for the mass audience. Most of them were dressed up like rabid college football fans (complete with face paint) and college marching band members and then forced to do the same repetitive acrobatics over and over and over again. On a big screen TV, the field in Miami just looked like an unintelligible and riotous clash of color and sound.

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Which brings me to my point: sometimes too much innovation can be a bad thing. I still love and respect Cirque Du Soleil, but I don’t think the performance last night was even close to what they could have achieved. While diversity of all kinds is good for the innovation process, there needs to be some way of filtering through all that innovation to find something that works. An “everything but the kitchen sink” strategy may work for some things, but not when it comes to innovation.

[image: Cirque Du Soleil at the Super Bowl]


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