Back to Orbit: Sing to Me about Innovation!

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Once in awhile, someone relatively unknown or “outside of the box” will do something spectacularly creative that deserves all of our attention. Today, I discovered that someone—Gus Bitdinger, a Stanford graduate student who wrote a primo song about Innovation in large organizations, “Back to Orbit.” Gus’s professor, Robert Sutton, was so impressed with the song, which was Gus’s final project for Sutton’s class, that Mr. Sutton posted a YouTube video of Bitdinger playing his song on the Harvard Business Review web site, in his “The Working Life” column.

Sutton wrote about the innovation class that fellow professor Michael Dearing and he taught to a diverse group of eleven Stanford students, called “Management Science & Engineering 282,” a joint offering of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program and the Stanford (Design) “” class. As Sutton describes it, “We decided to see how creative the students could get by subjecting them to an absurdly hard final exam (suggested by one of the students, Sam Goldman): We asked each one to make a short video that summarized what they learned in the class. We were impressed by how well they all did; but the best one just stunned us: ‘Back to Orbit,’ which you can see as a YouTube video.” You can also see, hear and discuss it The Harvard Business Review Online (the video will pop up here, if you’ve got Snap).

Gus has very creatively used many ideas from the late Gordon MacKenzie’s landmark book, “Orbiting the Giant Hairball,” one of the classics about Creativity and Innovation in organizations. As many of my readers know, Robert Sutton is Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, where he co-founded the Center for Work, Technology and Organization. His most recent book is The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t. Sutton’s personal blog is Work Matters; he also maintains (with Jeffrey Pfeffer) a website focusing on the use of evidence-based management.

You can get this terrific video at: or just click on this link, and the video should pop up here.

You can also see the video clip on our Creativity and Innovations Blog.

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