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.

 

Banning DDT

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.

Path

Ordinary citizens using their knowledge, experience, and passion to bring information about an environmental disaster to public attention through “the trial of mankind”.

Resource

Banning DDT: How Citizen Activists in Wisconsin Led the Way
Bill Berry
Wisconsin Historical Society Press
© State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 2014
Quotes on page xiii, 157, and 167

Note

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.

The Telegraph
“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.

Path

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

Resource

By the People: The Election of Barack Obama
(Documentary)
Citi Productions, Class 5 Films, Green Film Company, Reason Pictures
2009

 

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.

Path

Using multiple messengers to speak the same message to people who need to see new possibilities and learn new skills

Resource

cureviolence.org

 

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.

Path

Supporting and encouraging other people by helping them succeed

Resource

McFarland, Keith
“The Psychology of Success”
Inc. Magazine
November 2005, pages 158-159

http://www.inc.com/magazine/20051101/spotlight-psychology.html

 

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.

Path

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

Resources

whitwellmiddleschool.org

Paperclips
Documentary by Miramax Films

Six Million Paper Clips: The Making of a Children’s Holocaust Memorial
Book by Peter W. Schroeder/Dagmar Schroeder-Hildebrand

 

Dirty Dancing

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.

Path

Encouraging participation and improvisation to blend individual experience into an emotionally satisfying event

Resources

people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20062298,00.html

Dirty Dancing
The E! True Hollywood Story
First aired September 3, 2000

 

Habitat for Humanity

As of 2012, Habitat has built or repaired more than 600,000 safe, decent, and affordable homes for more than 3 million people around the world.

Habitat has two paths that intertwine.

Paths

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.

Resources

habitat.org

More Than Houses:
How Habitat for Humanity is Transforming Lives and Neighborhoods
Millard Fuller

 

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.

Path

Shaping a horizontal management structure within a system of nested circles

Resources

Managing Martians
Print Book
Donna Shirley

Managing Creativity:
A Practical Guide to Inventing, Developing and Producing Innovative Products
Ebook available from managingcreativity.com
Donna Shirley

Donna Shirley was Manager of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Mars Exploration Program

 

Martha Stewart

The expert on domestic arts, Stewart returned to prominence after the disgrace of her trial, conviction, and imprisonment for lying and obstruction of justice.

Path

Providing the knowledge, experience, skills, resources, and connections that enable people to become experts in a particular area of their own lives

Resources

The Martha Stewart Show

Martha Stewart Living Magazine

marthastewart.com

 

Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA)

The MREA hosts the most successful and longest running renewable energy fair in the world.

Path
The MREA has left its spectacular success path

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

Resources

midwestrenew.org

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.

Path

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

Resources

mccl.org

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.)

 

Posse Foundation

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%.

Path

Forming posses of people who work individually towards the same goal while providing constant support to each other

Resource

possefoundation.org

 

Solidarity

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.

Path

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

Resources

The Polish Revolution: Solidarity
Timothy Garton Ash, pages 68 and 278

http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1060898.html

 

Southwest Airlines

In January 2012, Southwest posted a profit for the 40th 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.

Path

Hiring people who work well with other people and are willing to consider the
consequences of their own actions on other people

Resources

The Southwest Airlines Way:
Using the Power of Relationships to Achieve High Performance
Jody Hoffer Gittell

Lessons in Loyalty: How Southwest Airlines Does It–an Insider’s View
Lorraine Grubbs-West

“Happy 40th Birthday, Southwest Airlines!
David Gill
Ethix
http://ethix.org/2011/01/09/happy-40th-birthday-southwest-airlines

 

Starbucks

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.

Path

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

Resource

The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary
Joseph Michelli

 

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.

Path

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

Resource

http://www.uwsp.edu/pointeronline/Pages/articles/Trivia-at-WWSP.aspx

Triviatown
Documentary
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.

Resource

The Oz, otherwise known as Jim Oliva

 

Toastmasters International

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. Today, men and women of all ages are learning life changing skills in 13,500 Toastmasters clubs with more than 280,000 members representing 116 countries.

Path

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

Resources

toastmasters.org

“My Turn: Reflecting on Ralph Smedley’s Words”
Watt Pye, DTM
Toastmaster
October, 2009, page 5.
http://www.d25toastmasters.org/magazine/October09.pdf

 

Toyota

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.

Path

Relying on the problem solving skills of every employee, no matter what their job level in the company

Resource

The Elegant Solution: Toyota’s Formula for Mastering Innovation
Matthew E. May

Matthew E. May is a Senior Advisor to the University of Toyota

Note

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.

 

Underground Railroad

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.

Path

Forming a loose network of independent individuals and groups sharing a common belief and working towards a common goal

Resource

Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America
Fergus M. Bordewich

freedomcenter.org

 

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.

Path

Freeing the crew to fulfill their talents, giving them support as needed, and recognizing their accomplishments

Resources

It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy
Captain D. Michael Abrashoff

glsworld.com

 

© Paula M. Kramer, 2008
All rights reserved.
Last updated October 5, 2015