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We are a multidisciplinary innovation studio working with diverse partners to understand sustainability challenges and identify holistic, resilient solutions, and we are committed to training the next generation of leaders.

Blog

Insights, inspiration and opportunities to create a more vibrant and resilient future.

The Source of Satisfaction?

Peter Nicholson

Cliffs & Climbing

Perfection in an asana (i.e. yoga poses) is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless and the infinite being within is reached.
-
B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on the Yoga Sutras

The fear of falling is primal. To pursue an activity that involves this risk defies reason. I have skied on the edge of a steep slope not only because the best snow was there, but also to navigate that fine line between safety and danger. Calling it a thrill is a misnomer; it’s deeply satisfying. My tenure as a competitive springboard diver was similar; there was always the possibility for pain and injury, but also transcendence.

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Native Nutrition?

Peter Nicholson

From Akron to Duluth
The food isn’t the reason. I search the internet for “family restaurants” during my travels and see what comes up. There isn't a hard definition, but the 8-10 I’ve recently patronized had common traits: “vintage" decor; decent, but not stellar food; a local, generally older clientele; reasonable prices; and a cashier near the door. Contentedly ensconced in a booth, I try to temper my innate urban elitism.

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Who's Fooling Who?

Peter Nicholson

The Influence of Cute
Everyone should have a puppy. The world would be a saner and more sustainable place. Watching over our new, 10-week old arrival invokes a powerful sense of vulnerability. The last time I felt this exposed, I was in college, studying music pre-professionally. My stage fright grew more intense each week I was there. Every moment I performed in public became a paralyzing battle against everything that could, and eventually did, go wrong.

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After the Flood?

Peter Nicholson

In Memoriam: Henry Henderson (1952 - Nov. 5, 2018)
Nature wins. The other morning, in my vivid dreamscape, the waves had far exceeded the breakwater. I call to you, “come look,” not so much out of surprise or concern, but wonder. With the waves now lapping at it, will the foundation hold? Is it built for this?

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Facilitating the Future?

Peter Nicholson

The Art of Allowing
Learning music was essential. When I was playing and studying chamber music in college, I had no idea how valuable the experience would later be to my career. There are a plethora of courses that teach meeting facilitation techniques. I would put my years of chamber music experience up against every one.

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Slaying the Undead?

Peter Nicholson

Spooky Innovation Killers
Clients want better solutions. Or so they think. Like a wine tasting, innovation often gets sampled and spat out before it can be ingested. Here are some of the responses I’ve received as novel vintages met their doom, and the underlying reasoning.

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The Root of the Matter?

Peter Nicholson

Ability v. Inability
My job is simple. It is also difficult. Insight is the foundation upon which we strive to build the houses our clients commission. Unearthing and assimilating it requires the right research and people. This innovation work around issues of bettering the world in meaningful ways is difficult because we are feeling our way in the dark. Frustration is part of the mix.

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Placated?

Peter Nicholson

Starbucks at Starbucks
Time is of the essence. I'm writing this on my phone while riding a bus. Time is always of the essence. Juggling multiple deadlines and evolving project demands this week has stressed my capacity for nimbleness. Sometimes we are more aware of the essence of time than others.

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The Land Down Under?

Peter Nicholson

Spelunking
We avoid the word “solve.” Having reached the dead-end of a subterranean maze of creative, innovation-seeking inquiry, sometimes you just sit and stare. What do we do now? Root causes can’t always be addressed, as much as I know every other “solution” is woefully inadequate. I didn’t pursue this type of innovation work to add more incomplete conceits to what is often already a long list.

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All the Love?

Peter Nicholson

The Sustainable Embrace
Everyone knew Charlie. For many years, by the gentle force of his caring personality, my friend Charlie Hamlen was at the center of the classical music world, launching and managing the careers of some of the most gifted musicians on the planet. Through an introduction he made, I undertook a professional collaboration that resulted in one of the pinnacle achievements of my then young career. At the peak of his prominence, having lost a partner to AIDS, he didn’t so much as walk away from his vocation, as brazenly pivot, leveraging his extensive professional capital, and large circle of friends, into the potent fundraising organization Classical Action.

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What's the Big Idea?

Peter Nicholson

Adjusting Discipline
We hope. During occasional moments in my 10+ year yoga practice, I’ve contemplated quitting. The physical machinations don't seem worth the delayed, amorphous results. A client recently commented “I was hoping that the document you sent would have that one big, game changing idea. It didn’t.” The nature of innovation is misunderstood. I’m eager for substantial, meaningful breakthroughs, yet have learned how much hard, slogging work is required to create the conditions for them to occur.

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