Thursday, 15 August 2013

To boldly go - beyond your own frontiers

Many of my 'Pond buddies' are leading Innovation in big organisations. One of the struggles I hear them talk about is the difficulty in encouraging people to get out of the office and look for inspiration in the outside world.

They know that by spending just a bit of time seeking out fresh inspiration and maybe even exploring how other industries approach similar challenges can and does pay dividends.

While many companies talk about ‘external focus’ many in practice still spend most of their time with heads down looking inwards. We can learn so much from both related and non-related worlds but alas it isn’t always the priority it should be.

Barriers to making this a reality are many and numerous ‘I don’t’ have time’, ‘Why bother’ and ‘Maybe next year’ and all responses regularly heard. However the sign of a healthy business or industry is one that constantly looks outside of its own sphere for new ideas.

 Here are just a few real life stories to act as stimulus along with a couple of ways you can stay fresh with new experiences to get yourself sparking with new ideas.

 Deliberate Focus

GSK/McClaren are a great example of where a couple of companies who are collaborating to share their knowledge with a very deliberate focus.

In September 2011, GSK and the McLaren Group joined forces to share knowledge and expertise with the aim of improving their business performance and driving a more dynamic business culture.

“There are four core pillars to our relationship - business performance analysis, sports nutrition science, employee engagement and the creation of a new McLaren-GSK Centre for Applied Performance”.

Having a focus for the topic you want some new thinking or learning about is a great way to start.

Random inspiration

This is all about being tuned in and receptive to making new connections from what you see and hear as you go about living life. If you routinely meet the same or similar people, go to the same places, read the same magazines you will generally expose yourself to the same stimulus over and over again. To increase your chances of getting new inspiration try….

a.    Taking a different route to work.

b.    Reading a different newspaper/ magazine, genre of Book.

c.    Learning a new skill

d.    Eating at a different restaurant and trying foods you’ve never tried before.


It’s amazing where we can get inspiration and ideas and here are a couple of examples

Shell –  ‘Getting inspiration in the most unlikely places’.

 The bendy straw drill - A nice you tube video (based on true events) that shows how a simple drinking straw led to a new methods of accessing oil more cleanly.


Virgin Galactic –

Burt Rutan designed the record-breaking Voyager, which was the first plane to fly around the world without stopping or refueling, and the sub-orbital spaceplane SpaceShipOne, which won the Ansari X-Prize in 2004 for becoming the first privately funded spacecraft to enter the realm of space twice within a two week period.

His inspiration for the plane came from observing how a shuttlecock fell to the ground!

 Virgin Galactic contracted aerospace Burt  to build the Virgin Galactic mothership and spacecraft.

Air New Zealand – How ‘Aerobics’ stimulated a very different pre-flight safety movie.

Let Richard Simmons get you fit to fly. Lose the baggage, fasten your safety belt, take a breather and let's GO! 

None of these examples would have been possible if someone hadn’t either first stepped out and reached into another industry sector or got inspired by something they saw out of the office!