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Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity - not a threat

>> 11 March 2009


I used to work in marketing for a bedding company and our challenge was to invent a new bed.
That's like reinventing the wheel you might say. Well, it was.

In order to get some creative help, we went and found Hans Zaugg who used to run a design school in Switzerland. Zaugg has been involved in products and brand such as Swatch, Artemide, Ikea...

When I first met this guy, my job was to translate, as he only spoke German (well, Schwitzerdeutsch - Swiss German actually). In the beginning I thought he was weird - but that was just me (I was young too...) comparing him to anyone I had known before - and he did not fit into any drawer.

The more I got to know him and his ideas though, the more he became a kind of guru of innovation.

When I first visited the design school, located in a tiny village in Switzerland, I was amazed (this was back in the early 90ies). Big open spaces, lots of colors, all sorts of different chairs, sofa and lounge area. It was definitely a working area that inspired me.

I have never seen anything like it again in my working life. It's all standard off-white, brown or beige furniture, hardly any color, no inspiring elements but the plants maybe.

Lately I have been feeling the need to create, to make something. This creativity craving has led me to introduce a first creative workshop to my immediate colleagues (end of the month - wish me luck) and it reminded me again of how important the surroundings are for creative flow.

I have just received a book by Marelisa Fabrega called 'How to be more creative - a handbook for alchemists' in which she points to IDEO, an innovation and design firm that uses a human-centered, design-based approach to help organisations innovate.

Awhile back ABC News Nightline posed the following challenge to IDEO: in order to see how the process of developing a better product works, IDEO was given five days to completely redesign the familiar shopping cart. Talk about reinveting the wheel - that story threw me right back into the early 90ies :-)

Watch the ABC News Nightline Special on YouTube:
Inside IDEO Part 1
Inside IDEO Part 2
Inside IDEO Part 3

No chaired meetings in suits. No powerpoints and charts. Quantity of ideas over quality. No criticizing other's ideas. The crazier the better. Build on other's ideas. Focused chaos.

There are so many good ideas to catch here to bring creativity and fun (back) to our workplaces.

So tomorrow I'll bring my own version of a DC3 wing to work.

2 comments:

Jay 12 March 2009 at 04:06  

This is exactly how companies need to operate if they will have a future. The stuffy 9-5 were creativity was squashed under the quantity shoe is a thing of the past. I love this post and another reason to pick up that ebook. Thanks!

MindFul MiMi 13 March 2009 at 20:35  

@ Jay: Totally right. On my shelf still sits the book 'A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future'. Let me know what you think of Marelisa's book.

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