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Welcome to the New Lantern blog. Our goal is to shine light on leading innovators and creative artists, and how your business can learn and profit from them. Companies large, medium, and small can benefit from employees who think more creatively. New Lantern may be just the source of inspiration your company needs to spark more innovative products, services, and processes.

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Monthly Archive for March, 2009

The Legacy of Duncan Phillips

Posted by on March 30, 2009 at 8:54 pm

The Phillips Collection is America’s first museum of modern art. It was founded in 1918 and opened to the public in 1921 — eight years before the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, and two decades before Washington’s National Gallery of Art.

Located in the eclectic Dupont Circle area of our nation’s capital, Duncan Phillips (1886-1966) established the museum as a memorial to his father and brother who died, respectively, in 1917 and 1918. The brothers both went to Yale, were very close, and shared an interest in modern art. “Sorrow all but overwhelmed me,” Duncan Phillips later wrote. “Then I turned to my love of painting for the will to live.”

Over the next five decades, Phillips collected a broad representation of both impressionist and modern art – including works from European and American artists. The museum has showcased works of Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Klee, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, John Marin, and James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

Today, the Phillips Collection is a model for other museums to follow – giving back to the nation and the DC community through education and outreach to nearly 90,000 children, teachers and families each year. The museum’s programs seek to leverage the “magic of the arts” to inspire creative expression, the development of critical literacy skills, and lifelong learning. Phillips’s upcoming Annual Gala on May 15 raises money to help fund these very worthwhile causes.

The magic of the arts can also transform individuals in the workplace. Inspiration from present-day and past artists can provide a mighty catalyst for more inspired products and services. Putting your employees in creative environments can pay dividends for your company or organization. Learn from innovators like Duncan Phillips who used loss and adversity to break from the pack and turn a passion into a life-changing experience.

Game-Changing Ideas for Business

Posted by on March 20, 2009 at 8:53 pm

This week’s special issue cover story in Business Week, on “Game-Changing Ideas for Business,” discusses how successful companies are using the current economic crisis as an opportunity to re-evaluate the old rules of management. Corporate executives are increasingly using “breakthrough management ideas” to take their businesses to new heights with innovative approaches to managing growth and talent.

The article highlights top companies which are finding ways to spur innovation by taking employees out of their comfort zones, creating new ways to compensate employees for greater achievement, breaking down traditional organizational barriers for increased performance, and leveraging the latest Web 2.0 social networking and wiki tools to enhance collaboration.

New Lantern is a business innovation consulting firm that is perfectly situated to help your company or organization change its game in all of these areas and more.

Learning from Yves Saint Laurent

Posted by on March 16, 2009 at 7:02 pm

I love YSL

Last month, Christie’s held the “Sale of the Century” auction in Paris of the art and furniture owned by world-renowned fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, who died in June 2008 at the age of 71. Christie’s spent $1.2 million to host the auction at the famed Grand Palais near the Champs-Elysees, which drew over 30,000 visitors to the preview exhibition. The auction itself spread over three days and raised a record-breaking $484 million — even in the face of the global economic crisis. Saint Laurent’s lifelong partner, Pierre Berge, said that most of the profits from the auction would be donated to HIV/AIDS research.

The overwhelming interest in last month’s auction underscores the impact of Saint Laurent in the art and design world over the last five decades. Born in Algeria in 1936, Saint Laurent maintained a home in Morocco. At his request, Saint Laurent’s ashes were scattered near his Marrakech villa in the Majorelle botantical garden, which he frequently visited to find influence. His influence also came from the streets of major international cities. For example, he was known for “bringing the Parisian beatnik style to couture runways and adapting peacoats he found in Army-Navy stores in New York” into fashionable women’s jackets, according to the New York Times.

Corporate executives and managers could learn from the man who built the House of YSL. To succeed in business, you must change as rapidly as the markets and interests of customers change. Today’s haute couture can be tomorrow’s bargain-bin special. Same goes with your products and services, and how you do business.

Seek inspiration in both likely and unlikely places. Embrace the principle that the look and feel of a product is as important as its function. Leverage the latest Web 2.0 tools that your customers and clients are using. And those who are fortunate enough to have laurels, shouldn’t rest on them, not if your business is interested in being around tomorrow.

Immigration is Key to U.S. Innovation

Posted by on March 8, 2009 at 5:09 pm

With the economy in shambles, Washington policy-makers should resist the urge to shut out the world’s best and brightest talent by making our country’s already archaic immigration policies even more so. The anti-immigration crowd is louder and more invigorated than ever with the U.S. unemployment rate over 8% and heading higher. What we need now is courage from our government leaders if our country is to ever crawl out of its economic hole.

American innovation has long been without rival. However, it is now being challenged by countries like China, India, and South Korea who fully appreciate this fact: the team which educates and employs the smartest people will eventually win the game.

The globe’s brightest graduates working in this country don’t take jobs away from Americans; they create jobs. In this week’s Business Week, Vivek Wadhwa, underscores this point in ‘America’s Immigrant Brain Drain’ article: “Although [immigrants] represent just 12% of the U.S. population, they have started 52% of Silicon Valley’s tech companies and contributed to more than 25% of the U.S. global patents.”

Will we help the U.S. employee by turning away the top 100,000 foreign-born graduates each year in math, science, and engineering? American workers and our students need to be challenged by the globe’s very best. World-class athletes cannot be world-class without competing against the best in the world. And the same is true in business and education.

I know first-hand about the state of our global competitiveness. I came to this country 31 years ago as a high school exchange student from Tehran, and brought with me much stronger math and science skills compared to my 12th-grade Michigan classmates.

If our country does not move quickly to put smart policies in place to attract and keep the world’s smartest individuals–while better educating our own kids–we will not only lose our global innovative edge, we’ll never get it back.

Does Your Company Need a CDO?

Posted by on March 1, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Does your company need a Chief Design Officer? Maybe, maybe not. But whether or not your company has a CDO, Chief Innovation Officer, Creative Director, or none of the above, businesses generally can benefit greatly by focusing more attention on design, innovation, and creativity.

Better design can give a company a competitive edge. Apple and Target are undeniable examples. Both companies have made design central to their business strategies in building stronger brands, customer loyalty, and greater market share.

Emphasis on design should not be limited to the CDO’s office. Every nook and cranny of the company can benefit from an infusion of creativity. Innovative design not only positively impacts products and packaging, but also company services and internal processes.

Make design a priority in every business division and corporate function. Expose employees to successful designers and creative artists. Spotlight creativity and good design, and reward employees and managers who answer the call to be their own CDO.