Is your company innovating? A Whole Foods case study.
The "lone genius" often gets the credit for big ideas, but real-world innovation is a team sport.
John Mackey is the CEO and cofounder of Whole Foods Market, cofounder of the nonprofit Conscious Capitalism, Inc., and coauthor of "Conscious Capitalism". He has devoted his life to selling natural and organic foods and building a better business model.
JOHN MACKEY: It's kind of a myth that most innovations occur by some genius, Steve Jobs or Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, that these guys are larger than life geniuses and all the innovations at Tesla came from Elon Musk and Steve Jobs personally invented the Macintosh and the iPod and iPhone and iPad and all that stuff. And certainly the entrepreneur is, it can be the media, elevates them to a higher standard, and they certainly are important in terms of providing leadership and hopefully conscious leadership to the team. But almost all the best innovations are done collaboratively. They're always part of a larger group that play off of each other. And I can tell you at Whole Foods that we've had a lot of innovative creative ideas. You know about 10 years ago or so we had a store in Santa Rosa, California. It opened the very first bar at Whole Foods Market. It opened in the middle of the wine section. They just took part of the wine section and they put in some taps and they put in some big screen TVs and they kinda set off the space, So we had this little beer wine bar in the middle of the store. And if they'd had to ask permission for that, they said, John, what do you think about this idea? I said, nobody's gonna go to a bar in a grocery store, it's a terrible idea, don't do it, waste of money. But they didn't have to ask permission, so they were able to try it, right. And guess what? It was hugely successful, and that bar started selling more beer every week than we were selling in seafood in the store for awhile. It was incredible. And then other stores would see what they were doing and they start copying it, only they wouldn't copy it exactly. They would iterate on it to make it different and better and some of those experiments didn't work by the way, and we had to throw them out, but the other ones did work.
I'll give you an example how at Rift, the original beer and wine bar in that store was really set up for guys. It was mostly beer and less wine, but they had wine and it had sports on the big screen TVs, and it kinda had its' masculine attitude. So we kinda thought that was what it was about. But an interesting thing happened as this concept evolved and went to other stores. We started noticing that a huge amount of women would show up in the afternoons when they get off work and they meet their friends and they would drink white wine. And it was like, the women are showing up, why are they showing up here? We thought this was a guy thing. They were showing up because this was a really safe place. We don't have a bunch of creeps that might follow you out to your car. It's Whole Foods Market, it's a big market, it's very safe. You don't, and so they'd meet their friends and then of course when you have a lot of women showing up, then you start having more guys show up and you start to get a bit of a scene there. And the next thing you know, they're playing live music and would add more food to it. And so that is collaborative innovation in a food store with one store trying one thing and then it iterating in different, and learning as you go along and you learn what works. And one thing we learned is it won't work that well if you don't have food with it, people just won't come in to have a drink. They wanna have something to eat with it too. And you got to make it where if you have some, a little live music and you have, where you're located in the store is important. And the reason I'm telling you the story is that this is the way innovation occurs frequently. It's just that that's done very much collaboratively in a team effort. And by the way, that's a lot more fun 'cause you're doing it with other people. That's part of that community at work that can make work so very deeply satisfying when you've got it.
- Individuals like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs are often idolized as masters of ideas, but according to Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, it usually takes many people iterating and taking chances for a company to be truly innovative.
- Using Whole Foods as a case study, Mackey shares a story of how a bar experiment at one of his California markets evolved into a successful feature and spread to other locations.
- By giving teams the freedom to try (and fail) without being micro-managed, organizations can create a culture that allows innovation to happen, not one that tries to force it to happen.
- Whole Foods CEO John Mackey: Business Can Be "Heroic" - Big ... ›
- Innovative Thinking vs. Adaptive Thinking - Big Think ›
- Make Room for Innovation: Key Characteristics of Innovative ... ›
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What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
We’ve mapped a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way. Take the virtual tour here.
See the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
Astronomers have mapped about a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way, in the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
A new study shows our planet is much closer to the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center than previously estimated.
Credit: NAOJ<p><em>Arrows on this map show position and velocity data for the 224 objects utilized to model the Milky Way Galaxy. The solid black lines point to the positions of the spiral arms of the Galaxy. Colors reflect groups of objects that are part of the same arm, while the background is a simulation image.</em></p>
With just a few strategical tweaks, the Nazis could have won one of World War II's most decisive battles.
- The Battle of Britain is widely recognized as one of the most significant battles that occurred during World War II. It marked the first major victory of the Allied forces and shifted the tide of the war.
- Historians, however, have long debated the deciding factor in the British victory and German defeat.
- A new mathematical model took into account numerous alternative tactics that the German's could have made and found that just two tweaks stood between them and victory over Britain.
Two strategic blunders<p>Now, historians and mathematicians from York St. John University have collaborated to produce <a href="http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~nm15/bootstrapBoB%20AAMS.docx" target="_blank">a statistical model (docx download)</a> capable of calculating what the likely outcomes of the Battle of Britain would have been had the circumstances been different. </p><p>Would the German war effort have fared better had they not bombed Britain at all? What if Hitler had begun his bombing campaign earlier, even by just a few weeks? What if they had focused their targets on RAF airfields for the entire course of the battle? Using a statistical technique called weighted bootstrapping, the researchers studied these and other alternatives.</p><p>"The weighted bootstrap technique allowed us to model alternative campaigns in which the Luftwaffe prolongs or contracts the different phases of the battle and varies its targets," said co-author Dr. Jaime Wood in a <a href="https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2020/research/mathematicians-battle-britain-what-if-scenarios/" target="_blank">statement</a>. Based on the different strategic decisions that the German forces could have made, the researchers' model enabled them to predict the likelihood that the events of a given day of fighting would or would not occur.</p><p>"The Luftwaffe would only have been able to make the necessary bases in France available to launch an air attack on Britain in June at the earliest, so our alternative campaign brings forward the air campaign by three weeks," continued Wood. "We tested the impact of this and the other counterfactuals by varying the probabilities with which we choose individual days."</p><p>Ultimately, two strategic tweaks shifted the odds significantly towards the Germans' favor. Had the German forces started their campaign earlier in the year and had they consistently targeted RAF airfields, an Allied victory would have been extremely unlikely.</p><p>Say the odds of a British victory in the real-world Battle of Britain stood at 50-50 (there's no real way of knowing what the actual odds are, so we'll just have to select an arbitrary figure). If this were the case, changing the start date of the campaign and focusing only on airfields would have reduced British chances at victory to just 10 percent. Even if a British victory stood at 98 percent, these changes would have cut them down to just 34 percent.</p>
A tool for understanding history<p>This technique, said co-author Niall Mackay, "demonstrates just how finely-balanced the outcomes of some of the biggest moments of history were. Even when we use the actual days' events of the battle, make a small change of timing or emphasis to the arrangement of those days and things might have turned out very differently."</p><p>The researchers also claimed that their technique could be applied to other uncertain historical events. "Weighted bootstrapping can provide a natural and intuitive tool for historians to investigate unrealized possibilities, informing historical controversies and debates," said Mackay.</p><p>Using this technique, researchers can evaluate other what-ifs and gain insight into how differently influential events could have turned out if only the slightest things had changed. For now, at least, we can all be thankful that Hitler underestimated Britain's grit.</p>
Apple sold its first iPod in 2001, and six years later it introduced the iPhone, which ushered in a new era of personal technology.