Here at futurethink, we like to say that: “innovation is everywhere, you just have to know where to look.” But where do you look for innovation? Is it really all around us? How do you know when you ‘see’ it? I wanted to know what my team considered innovative, so we did a little fieldtrip exercise of our own.
The other day I called everyone into the conference room, handed each of them a $10 bill, and said: “You have 30 minutes. You can go anywhere you want, but here’s what you have to do: You MUST spend your $10 on something you think is innovative. We’ll meet for lunch right after, where everyone will share what they found.”
You’d think it was an easy exercise, right? I suddenly heard a flood of questions from the team: “Can I spend it on ONE item, or several?”, “Does it have to be a thing (object)?” My answer was: It’s up to you. No boundaries.
The excitement was palpable – buy something that’s innovative in 30 minutes and bring it to lunch. Everyone grabbed their coats and shot out the door. One person went to Whole Foods, another to Duane Reade, a few ventured to Home Depot, and other one hit BuyBuyBaby.
Lunch was a blast. Everyone was so eager to share what they found we barely made it through ordering our Chinese food. In just 30 minutes:
- Josh found dissolvable shower soothers (from the markers of Sudafed!) — tablets that upon contact with water gave off natural healing powers.
- Rob grabbed Brawny’s ‘beyond paper towels’ line of products – pot scrubbers, rubber gloves
- Susan bought the latest product to use ‘mouthstrips’ technology – a Green Tea weight loss supplement
- Cory found that Benjamin Moore super small paint sample jars were smart and cost effective
- Chetan went to the corner coffee cart and grabbed the latest (RED) branded coffee cups
- I found cool gift cards at Chipotle, made from corn-based PLA plastic, of course
There were more innovations, but you get the idea. We talked about why we decided to go to the places we did, how we defined what was ‘innovative’, and voted on our favorite innovation.
The best part was that we had created an easy exercise we could use on our innovation fieldtrips to help participants get hands-on and quickly define what they thought was innovative. And we liked that we were keeping in touch with the fact that innovation is about more than just the next iPod – it’s about creating meaningful things that can impact our everyday lives.
I’m already planning our next team excursion. I can’t wait.