Innovation Or The Nutcracker: What Do You Want to Create

This past weekend, Laurie and I had plans to go see the Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. She has a list of things she’s always wanted to do in New York City, and this is on it. So that means I’m dragged along.

The Nutcracker felt more like a checklist experience than something spectacular. Works for the ballet, but not a great goal for business.

That’s okay, right, as it’s an iconic ballet and people go in droves every year. This meant it would be great, so I thought. Plus, I enjoy theater so as long as the ballet was going to tell a story, I could probably find something I enjoyed in it. After all, it’s people practicing what they love to do, which is infectious and invigorating.

There’s one problem: I hated the Nutcracker. I found the story line completely impossible to watch, care about or enjoy. I know it’s a classic, but when there’s 10 minutes of bowing and curtsying at the beginning of the play, I’m immediately turning away.

For the readers who don’t know, the Nutcracker, which first premiered in 1892, is set in 1800s-esque household on Christmas. Friends and family gather, they play a number of games and then the girl dreams of her nutcracker turning into a prince, who takes her on an epic journey to celebrate in a land where every nation has dancers who perform for her. It’s quite the party.

But the Nutcracker, in my humble opinion, had trouble relating to our time. Even Laurie, who saw it as a kid, said she remembered it being much better. And, trust me, the whimsical-ness of the story wasn’t lost on me. Yet, even as the dancers do their best, the choreograph tries to hit the exact spot that creator laid out over 100 years ago. This is the downside to the play. It doesn’t offer new ways to excite. New ways to energize. Or new ways to entertain. 

It continues to mirror someone else’s creation. Someone cared to create this and because families continue to turn out in droves to the theater every year, the directors do little to offer a new look. A new translation. A new dynamic. It has not had to innovate. They have to and every time they try, it doesn’t do as well. This is because people have heard what to expect, and they’ve decided it’s all they want.

But I question why people really go to the Nutcracker. Is it because the choreography or because it has become a staple? Do they leave with enjoyment and excitement or leave with a ‘well, I can check that off my list.’ I would argue the first portion should always be the goal, but the latter is reality.And it goes the same in business. Are people leaving your company or service with a ‘well, we got that done?’ If so, it’s not likely to lead to repeat business. Instead, make them thrilled for coming. Make them hunger for more help. Make them want to come back. Because until you’re as old as the Nutcracker, you will need repeat business to survive.

How do you develop this excitement? First you need to ask yourself, ‘Are you excited with what you do?’ If the answer is no, then it will be nearly impossible to infuse enthusiasm in your customers. If this is you, then look to see how your efforts improve the world. Does it create something? Do you have larger goal in mind? Will your endeavors change the way people think, listen, learn, eat, play, etc.? If you can find that one piece of higher calling, then you will find yourself more excited about the job. But it can’t be fake. And if you’re faking it, then it might be time to look for another business or career.

And on a completely different note, I want to give a shout-out to Barry Moltz, who has joined the Facebook Challenge. You can check out his progress by following his page here. And if you would like to join the challenge, just let me know in the comments section here.

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  1. […] we’re a gourmet restaurant”The Week’s BestsRyan Derousseau compares your ability to innovate to “The Nutcracker”: “I question why people really go to ‘The Nutcracker.’ Is it because of the […]

  2. […] Derousseau compares your ability to innovate to “The Nutcracker”: “I question why people really go to ‘The Nutcracker.’ Is it because of the choreography or […]

  3. […] Derousseau compares your ability to innovate to “The Nutcracker”: “I question why people really go to ‘The Nutcracker.’ Is it because of the choreography or […]

  4. […] Derousseau compares your ability to innovate to “The Nutcracker”: “I doubt since people unequivocally go to ‘The Nutcracker.’ Is it since of a choreography or […]

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