Paths To Spectacular Success
Looking at examples of spectacular successes from around the world, it is possible to see a wide variety of paths to spectacular success. Choose the path or combination of paths that is most likely to take you to spectacular success.
Once you have chosen a path, use the resources for that particular spectacular success to understand how to take similar steps along that path in your life, your group, and/or your organization.
More paths will be added as Paula Kramer identifies them.
Notice that many of these paths begin with
identifying and satisfying
the needs of ordinary people.
Garden club ladies, homemakers, retired people, university students, university professors, university scientists, hunters, fishers, bird-watchers, newspaper reporters, newspaper columnists, traditional conservationists, and environmental activists “saw something out of place in the land community and its web of life” and decided that the pesticide DDT needed to be banned. They had no money but they did have guts and tenacity. In 1968 they asked the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources “for a declaratory hearing on whether DDT was a water pollutant under Wisconsin water quality standards”.
To make the hearing successful, this diverse group created an orderly plan for volunteers to provide lodging, transportation, hearing room assistance, bibliographic searches, transcription, publicity, and information to the people testifying against DDT. A Wisconsin law banning DDT went into effect in January 1970. In part because of the attention the Wisconsin hearing brought to the harmful effects of DDT, a U.S. ban on DDT was announced in June 1972.
Ordinary citizens using their knowledge, experience, and passion to bring information about an environmental disaster to public attention through “the trial of mankind”.
Banning DDT: How Citizen Activists in Wisconsin Led the Way
Wisconsin Historical Society Press
© State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 2014
Quotes on page xiii, 157, and 167
In the human body, DDT breaks down into the fat-soluble chemical compound DDE. Scientists in Britain have found that people with Alzheimer’s disease have four times more DDE in their bloodstreams than people who do not have Alzheimer’s disease. Britain banned DDT in 1986.
“Banned pesticide DDT may raise risk of Alzheimer’s disease”
January 28, 2014
Barack Obama’s First Presidential Campaign
Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign encouraged young people to take part in making history by helping to elect him the first black president of the United Sates.
Giving ordinary people the information and tools necessary to speak their own words and take their own actions for making history as part of a national community that they help build
By the People: The Election of Barack Obama
Citi Productions, Class 5 Films, Green Film Company, Reason Pictures
Ceasefire Campaign, Chicago Center for Violence Prevention
Viewing violence as an infectious disease, epidemiologist Dr. Gary Slutkin started the CeaseFire campaign in Chicago to interrupt the behavior that infected neighborhoods with violence and to change the social norms that made violence acceptable. Outreach workers, faith leaders, and other community leaders go out onto the streets to intervene in conflicts or potential conflicts and suggest alternatives to violence.
Using multiple messengers to speak the same message to people who need to see new possibilities and learn new skills
CEOs of the Inc. 500
The U.S. military, big corporations, and Olympic athletic squads administer the Test of Attentional and Interpersonal Style (TAIS) for helping high performers improve their competitive edge. TAIS assesses which form of persuasion people use in communication — ideas, criticism, or support. In 2005, Keith McFarland administered TAIS to 250 former and current CEOs of Inc. Magazine’s 500 Fastest-Growing Private Companies. The CEOs scored higher than 82% of the population in communicating support and encouragement to persuade others, including employees, partners, investors, and suppliers.
Supporting and encouraging other people by helping them succeed
“The Psychology of Success”
November 2005, pages 158-159
Children’s Holocaust Memorial
Eighth graders in Whitwell, Tennessee decided to collect six million paper clips so they could understand intolerance and the loss of Jewish lives during the Holocaust. These school children ended up with thirty million paper clips donated from all over the world. The children used the paper clips to create a museum and two memorials to all eleven million Holocaust victims. One memorial is a resting place meant to give Holocaust victims the respect and protection they did not receive during their lives. The students went on to design educational projects about intolerance for other school children around the country.
Giving people around the world a simple way to recognize the harm of intolerance by honoring the feelings of people who lost loved ones and cherishing the souls of Holocaust victims
Documentary by Miramax Films
Six Million Paper Clips: The Making of a Children’s Holocaust Memorial
Book by Peter W. Schroeder/Dagmar Schroeder-Hildebrand
The low-budget movie without big stars made through a new studio earned more than $300 million worldwide and won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a Grammy. It was the first movie to sell more than 1 million copies on home video.
Encouraging participation and improvisation to blend individual experience into an emotionally satisfying event
The E! True Hollywood Story
First aired September 3, 2000
Habitat for Humanity
As of 2017, Habitat “has helped more than 13.2 million people obtain a safer place to sleep at night.” Habitat has two paths that intertwine.
The first path satisfies the passions of the people who volunteer.
Giving individuals with similar passions a place and time to work together
to transform lives
The second path satisfies the needs of low income people.
Creating positive identities for people with negative identities through community recognition and support
Together, these satisfied needs and passions create spectacular success.
More Than Houses:
How Habitat for Humanity is Transforming Lives and Neighborhoods
Mars Pathfinder Microrover
The team that built the Mars rover Sojourner Truth brought it in on time and under budget, developing several new processes and devices along the way.
Shaping a horizontal management structure within a system of nested circles
A Practical Guide to Inventing, Developing and Producing Innovative Products
Ebook available from managingcreativity.com
Donna Shirley was Manager of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Mars Exploration Program
The expert on domestic arts, Stewart returned to prominence after the disgrace of her trial, conviction, and imprisonment for lying and obstruction of justice.
Providing the knowledge, experience, skills, resources, and connections that enable people to become experts in a particular area of their own lives
The Martha Stewart Show
Martha Stewart Living Magazine
Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA)
The MREA has left its path to spectacular success. This is what a long time volunteer said about recent and current staff:
“It really bugs me that some people puff out their chests, stick their noses in the air,
and treat you like you are pond scum.”
Read the letter Paula Kramer wrote to sponsors of the MREA’s 2018 energy fair about the pond scum treatment that included abuse of a senior citizen volunteer.
The MREA hosts the most successful and longest running renewable energy fair in the world.
Giving individuals with similar passions a place and time to work together towards a common goal in ways that create both individual rewards and positive change in the world
The Energy Fair:
Getting Our Energy from the Sun for 20 Years
Midwest Renewable Energy Association, 2010
Renewing Energies: The Ingredients for Spectacular Success
Documentary on DVD, 2007
Paula M. Kramer
(The Energy Fair book includes quotes from the Renewing Energies documentary, but lists the full name of the documentary incorrectly.)
Minnesota Concerned Citizens for Life
A model for pro-life action, the MCCL helped make abortion services mostly unavailable and increasingly limited restricted.
Encouraging individual supporters of a shared cause to speak their own words and take their own actions so that small successes for the individuals can add up to substantial successes for the cause
In-House Rhetoric of Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Special Interest Groups in Minnesota: Motivation and Alienation
Dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1982
Marsha Vanderford Doyle, Ph.D.
(Paula Kramer read this dissertation for a grad school seminar and has never been able to find the same kind of detailed information about MCCL anywhere else.)
The Posse Foundation identifies talented but underprivileged high school students, prepares them for college with an eight month training program, and helps them find scholarships. The percentage of posse members graduating college is about 90% while the national graduation rate is closer to 50%.
Forming posses of people who work individually towards the same goal while providing constant support to each other
The first noncommunist trade union in a communist country, Polish Solidarity survived martial law in 1981 and several years of repression. The trade union finally forced the government into negotiations that led to semi-free elections in 1989. Solidarity inspired people living in Eastern Bloc countries to create the peaceful anti-communist revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe that helped bring the Soviet Union to an end in the early 1990s.
Recognizing common needs so that individuals from every status and profession in society can work together to create revolutions of identity and of the soul
The Polish Revolution: Solidarity
Timothy Garton Ash, pages 68 and 278
In January 2018, Southwest posted a profit for the 45th consecutive year. Southwest even posted a profit during the decline of airlines following 9/11. Southwest has more union employees (85%) than any other airline, which means that Southwest executives know how to work with and satisfy their employees. Because their needs are satisfied, Southwest employees focus on working with and satisfying Southwest customers.
Hiring people who work well with other people and are willing to consider the
consequences of their own actions on other people
Lessons in Loyalty: How Southwest Airlines Does It–an Insider’s View
The Southwest Airlines Way:
Using the Power of Relationships to Achieve High Performance
Jody Hoffer Gittell
“Southwest Airlines marks 45th consecutive year of profitability”
Center For Aviation
January 25, 2018
Starbucks is the largest coffeehouse company in the world. Its employee benefits have frequently put Starbucks on lists of best companies to work for. Its reputation has put Starbucks on the World’s Most Admired Companies list.
Building a people company of happy employees who serve coffee with the purpose of making customers feel at home in a third place gathering spot between work and home
The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary
Stevens Point, Wisconsin Trivia Contest
The world’s largest trivia contest is hosted by the radio station at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Approximately 12,000 people on more than 400 teams participate every year. Teams answer 430 questions over 54 straight hours.
Providing residents with a yearly community homecoming to renew their relationships with each other and with their community while having fun with thousands of other people
Trivial Pictures (No kidding.)
Trivia about Trivia
The number of people and the number of teams playing Trivia depends on when Trivia takes place each April. If Trivia takes place before April 15th, accountants and tax preparers have to work on tax returns for other people instead of playing Trivia for themselves. If Trivia takes place after April 15th, accountants and tax preparers can organize teams and join teams and play to their hearts’ content.
The Oz, otherwise known as Jim Oliva
In 1903, Dr. Ralph C. Smedley was director of education at the YMCA in Bloomington, Illinois. He noticed that the young men who came to the YMCA needed training in communication, public speaking, and leadership. Smedley decided to create a club to provide that training. The name “Toastmasters” came from Bloomington YMCA general secretary George Sutton.
In 1924 at the Santa Ana, California YMCA, Smedley started the club that became the first permanent Toastmasters club. Smedley’s club created such success for Santa Ana’s young men that people in other communities, states, and countries wanted to participate. As of June 2018, men and women of all ages are learning life changing skills in 16,400 Toastmasters clubs with more than 352,000 members representing 141 countries.
Creating a do-it-yourself activity dedicated to individual self-discovery that is nurtured by a group of equals who follow simple, planned activities in a pleasant and social atmosphere
“My Turn: Reflecting on Ralph Smedley’s Words”
Watt Pye, DTM
October, 2009, page 5.
Toyota is the world’s most profitable producer of automobiles. After taking a serious hit from the 2011 tsunami, it again reclaimed its position selling more cars than any other company.
Relying on the problem solving skills of every employee, no matter what their job level in the company
The Elegant Solution: Toyota’s Formula for Mastering Innovation
Matthew E. May
Matthew E. May is a Senior Advisor to the University of Toyota
Toyota is an example of a spectacular success that sours. The souring began when Toyota shifted its focus from quality to quantity. Souring can be slight or severe. Spectacular successes can recover from souring, as Toyota seems to have done.
Between 1810 and 1850 in the United States, Underground Railroad “conductors” (free-born blacks, white abolitionists, former slaves, Native Americans, churches, and religious groups) helped 30,000 to 100,000 slaves escape from the South to the North.
Forming a loose network of independent individuals and groups sharing a common belief and working towards a common goal
Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America
Fergus M. Bordewich
USS Benfold, Navy Cruise Missile Destroyer
In 1998, the crew of USS Benfold achieved the highest rating ever in the Pacific Fleet for the Combat Systems Readiness Review. Benfold had previously been the worst- performing ship in the fleet. Benfold’s crew also developed several processes that were adopted by the entire Navy.
Freeing the crew to fulfill their talents, giving them support as needed, and recognizing their accomplishments
It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy
Captain D. Michael Abrashoff
© Paula M. Kramer, 2008
All rights reserved.
Last updated August 17, 2018