I want to debunk for you what I'm calling The Myth of Innovation, the idea that anything other than the relentless hunt for the next best game-changing idea is synonymous with complacency, stagnation, and decline. As Wayne Gretzky put it (please forgive the hockey reference in the midst of the World Cup), the mandate that we must "Skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it's been." Don’t get me wrong, change is inevitable and we must continue looking for creative solutions to problems that arise. However, I’m here to tell you that--based on the feedback I’m getting--we’re doing something right here and we need to keep our eyes on the puck at our feet.
So, who am I to tell you this?
What I’m sharing with you is based on 5 years hosting over 5000 visitors who’ve dropped by Portland to see what’s so special about this place. As the Assistant Director of First Stop Portland, I occupy an interesting position in an important conversation--learning what matters to leaders from around the globe, hearing the questions they’re asking, the answers they’re getting, and capturing their sometimes very frank feedback about how things are working here.
|Debriefing visiting leaders from DaNang, Vietnam|
Like it or not, we’ve become a model for the world.
As I speak:
- 6 Oregon mayors are in Dallas, Texas presenting to a conference of mayors from around the country on the transformative power of collaboration…. spreading the message "There are no republican forests to protect; no democratic jobs to create."
- Brookings economist Bruce Katz is applauding how "weird and crunchy" Portland just happens to be one of America's most global regions with the third-highest export intensity in the US
- College educated individuals under 40 (the ever desirable "creative class") are migrating here at remarkably high rates--in good economic times and bad--along with affluent empty-nesters and retirees
- The New York Times' love affair with our artisan culture continues week in and week out they gush over our "rules-be-damned style…divorced from old-school notions of propriety, service and polish"
- And I stay extremely busy at First Stop Portland hosting the hundreds of people—from the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to the Planning Czar of Auckland, New Zealand—who visit each year to see for themselves whether what's really going on here lives up to the hype