Not so long ago the Strategic Innovation Academy took a field trip into beautiful downtown Iowa City (have you seen this town in the autumn? Boy howdy!) in order to visit a location known as M.C. Ginsberg. Part jewelry store, part rapid-prototyping facility, part innovation factory, this is a unique and special place.
Mark Ginsberg, who started the company in 1985, is the owner and proprietor of the establishment. We started with a brief tour of the jewelry store, which is located on the ground floor of the building. Unlike your typical store, this one employs a sort of quasi-wunderkammer-inspired philosophy with regard to both its layout and overall design concept. There are myriad drawers available for viewing pleasure, but you must take the initiative to open them of your own accord in order to view the contents within. Very intriguing.
However, the real meat of the tour, especially from the vantage point of Strategic Management and Innovation, came on the upper levels of 110 E. Washington Street. (Much like a “wonder cabinet,” the facade can be deceiving.) On these levels, Mr. Ginsberg has equipment and personnel that allow for him to create the objects of both art and science that he sells to various consumers. Working with a relatively small team, Mr. Ginsberg and his employees are able to manufacture some incredible artifacts.
Why do I say artifacts? Because Mr. Ginsberg, much like myself, holds a B.A. in History. I could write several posts dedicated to the various intersections between the liberal arts and commerce, but M. C. Ginsberg is a testament to those connections.
And speaking of connectivity, Mr. Ginsberg had one must-read book recommendation for the group: The Medici Effect: What Elephants & Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation. Sadly, the University of Iowa library system did not have a copy – however I was able to obtain one through inter-library loan. (Did I mention that the University of Iowa has an outstanding library?) This was one of those rare books that I was not able to put down. Generally, I lose interest about ¼ through a book (any book), but Frans Johansson’s work is attention-grabbing in addition to being extraordinarily enlightening.
It is my belief that this book should be required reading for any Tippie student. The back cover does a pretty good job by way of synopsis, so I’ll quote from it here:
“The Medici Effect shows how breakthrough ideas most often occur when we bring concepts from one field into a new, unfamiliar territory, and offers examples of how we can turn the ideas into path-breaking innovations.”
If there were an adult-version of the television show “Reading Rainbow,” this one would definitely make the cut, but you don’t have to take my word for it –
“Drop what you’re doing and read it!” – Gil Amelio, former Chairman and CEO, Apple computer.
[Cue Reading Rainbow sound effect.]