Leadership / Management | Legislative / Regulatory

No room for big ideas? Make room.


My family and I got to play tourists in Chicago recently. Stop No. 1 was the Museum of Science and Industry, home of the German submarine U-505.

It's an eye-popping exhibit. At 252 feet long, nearly 31 feet high, and weighing 880 metric tons, the U-505 sank eight ships before being captured in the south Atlantic by the U.S. Navy on June 4, 1944. It's one of only four World War II-era German U-boats still in existance today as museum ships.

The U-505's story is fascinating, and any students of World War II history need to make a beeline for Chicago to check this thing out.

Truth be told, though, I was more fascinated by how they got the monster inside the museum's basement. It's not like moving a couch -- you don't just wiggle the thing through the front door and down the stairs.

As we were leaving the exhibit, I stopped to watch a video that explained everything.

Here's what happened: The U-505 arrived at the museum in 1954, and it sat on display on the MSI's lawn for the next 51 years. The sub took a beating from the elements, vandals, and a steady stream of tourists, and museum officials eventually decided they needed to bring the U-505 inside.

To do it, they altered the museum itself. They built a new underground wing by digging a hole, lowering the sub into it, then walling it up and building an exhibit around it.


What's my point? Simply this:

The big changes that are rocking our worlds often don't fit neatly in the confines of our rigid business processes. Too often, we try to change the new stuff to fit our needs.

Maybe we're the ones who need to change.

Social media, the cloud, generational issues, the entire notion of leading through collaboration (rather than control) -- these things don't fit our traditional business models, but they're dictating how business gets done going forward. We can't shoe-horn these things into business-as-usual. It doesn't fit. We need to knock down a few walls and find space for this stuff where space didn't previously exist.

What we do doesn't need to change. We are still committed to serving our members, our clients, our customers and employees.

How we do that, though, might have to change radically.

Think about that for a while, then watch how the Museum of Science and Industry changed itself to accommodate what matters most. Really -- it's the coolest 5 minutes you'll spend today:


Bill Sheridan