The Crazy Idea

That is how I found myself sitting in the meeting room at Stoller Vineyards in Dayton, Oregon.

I walked in and found every seat of the table, except one, filled. I really had no idea what I was walking into.

Gary jumped right in without any introductions and asked me to share my idea. Having no choice, and everything to lose, I did.

The idea was to reimagine how we could educate our kids to unleash their creative genius. The idea was to do this in a small rural community that could become an innovation hub. The idea was to create a national model.

I explained that in order to do this transformation we needed everybody on board: the school, the community, and businesses.

Then I paused. At first, there was silence.

And then people started talking. Something in their response struck me: a lack of doubt. It was simply, “Sure, let’s do that.” I was expecting either a strong pushback or an enthusiastic endorsement. Neither were there. It was simply, “Sure,” as if what I had asked was nothing out of the ordinary.

So I pushed back. I asked if they really understood what I was asking: that they all really had to be committed, particularly the school district. Then they went around the table and introduced themselves. The school, business, and community leadership were all represented. And they were all on board.

Realizing that there was only one way – forward ­– I explained that we worked in six-week sprints, which meant that we had to immediately launch our first sprint with a deliverable in six weeks.

And that would be launching Dayton’s Innovation Academy, to see if we might replicate the experience at Franklin High School from the previous summer. I heard a slight audible gasp from the group, but we all agreed to press the button.

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