a problem in x-office, then x-office will deal with it. And x-office will not seek wisdom from nor educate
office y or z, with their findings.” He went on to share how the real moments of innovation, in his
bureaucracy, have happened when the leaders have had the courage to “cross-pollinate the thinking from
the different divisions.” The truth is, it’s really hard to beat the innovation of a carefully selected and well-resourced team given a stretched mandate to solve properly defined issues.
“Art,” according to Picasso, “is theft.” And, as we well know, not everything stolen ends up being art. Isaac
Asimov is said to have commented: “Star Wars was fun and I enjoyed it. But Battlestar Galactica was Star
Wars all over again and I couldn’t enjoy it without amnesia.” Asimov was insulting the makers of
Galactica—accusing them of theft. His comment makes for an interesting story.
In 1978 20th century Fox sued Universal Studies, the makers of Galactica, for stealing “ 34 distinct ideas”
from Star Wars. Universal countersued, claiming Star Wars had stolen ideas from their 1930’s serial Buck
Rogers. In 2004 a re-imagined version of Battlestar Galactica aired on the Sci-Fi channel. Four years later
the remake was listed on Time Magazine’s “Top 100 TV shows of all Time.” A far cry from Asimov’s critique
of the earlier version, but arty theft nevertheless.
Speaking of theft16:
“In November 1983, Microsoft announced a new, mouse-based system called Windows. When
Steve Jobs found out about Windows, he went ballistic.
‘Get Gates down here immediately’, he fumed. ‘He needs to explain this, and it better be good.
I want him in this room by tomorrow afternoon, or else!’
The next afternoon, Bill Gates sat alone, surrounded by ten Apple employees. Steve started
yelling at Bill, asking him why he violated their agreement.
‘You're ripping us off!’ Steve shouted. ‘ I trusted you, and now you're stealing from us!’
Bill Gates just sat there coolly, looking Steve directly in the eye, before starting to speak.
‘Well, Steve, I think there's more than one way of looking at it. I think it's more like we both had
this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that
you had already stolen it.’
As educational leaders we need to have our pulse on what is out there (in Xerox’s house), what is effective,
and what is evolving. We have the moral obligation to steal, pillage, and plunder everything we need to
make our schools better for the children and adults we serve. At ASB we have a Research & Development
Department whose mandate it is to:
keep their eye on the horizon,
grab what is ‘out there’ (or almost ‘out there’),
study it (fast but diligently),