Master of Madness

Who: Bill Little


Company: Little & Associates

Age: 62

Has Held Title For: 1 year

Previous Title: Chairman

Degree: BS, architecture

Bill Little showed up at a local country club for his company’s annual meeting wearing a coat and tie – and his boxer shorts. His explanation? The club’s dress code didn’t specify pants! Was the chairman of a leading national architecture firm insane? No! He was simply doing his job – as Master of Madness for Little & Associates Architects, the 285-person, North Carolina-based firm he started in 1959.

Why trade “Chairman” for “Master of Madness”?

Chairman of the Board is basically a lame-duck title. Instead of running board meetings, I wanted to encourage creative thinking.

How do you cultivate madness?

You have to get comfortable with being stupid, silly, crazy – every day. I encourage people to ask wild questions like: “What if we built it out of marshmallows?”

Are you insane?

I hope so – insanity’s the best path to creativity that I know of. I aim to be a symbol of craziness.

How do you define madness?

Edison made more than 14,000 attempts to invent the lightbulb. People thought he was crazy. And he was. That’s what we’re looking for.