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California Academy of Sciences - Realizing a Dream

Posted Sep 22 2008 5:37pm

The San Francisco Bay Area is buzzing with excitement around the reopening of the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.  The media buzz included a front page article in the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday.  As I was enjoying my Sunday morning coffee and reading about this fabulous new place to take my children, I became intrigued by the history of this massive project.  Back in 1997 the academy, which included a natural history museum, planetarium, aquarium, and a live animal exhibit, was an aging, dilapidated icon.  Several years and some $488 million later, our city has been blessed with a "cultural gem."  As with most every large, complicated, and important project, the road was a windy one.  The story, however, included an important lesson about Inspiring a Shared Vision.  "As soon as you allow yourself to start dreaming big, you start to realize, maybe it could happen," said Meagan Levitan, who handled the Academy of Science's community outreach at the time. 

Most leaders have great ideas and grand schemes coming out of their ears.  However, those maybe-it-could-happen moments are quite rare.  And given the current business climate, I suspect that leaders will be even less likely to "envision the future by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities."  How do we as leaders and developers of leaders resist the "hunker down" mentality?

Posted by Lisa Shannon

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