Jancy Langley MBA/MEM ’15 spent the summer working at Greenovate Boston, a community organization working to improve the city’s commercial recycling rates. She shared the hard lessons she learned in a recent article in the Huffington Post:
No matter how dogged and brilliant the next wave of interns, how clever and charming the leader, this project would not singlehandedly revolutionize commercial recycling in Boston. We did the math on our salaries, the salaries of future government employees and the projected expense of getting just one 10-business co-op off the ground; we compared that to the meager gains on maybe a few extra tons of cans and bottles kept out of the landfill. We also did some quick math on other, more standard means of increasing commercial recycling and presented our honest, evidence-based opinion: The first iteration of the co-op program didn't make financial sense.
This—incremental progress through failure—is what innovation looks like. What we learned in business school was not that we should take novel, cool ideas to the moon and back, no matter the cost, but that we should face ambiguous problems with creative solutions and then pressure test them quickly, honestly.