Acumen in action

Where is innovation born?

Where is innovation born?

Mike Wright  |  October 15, 2014

Consider this…
Where is innovation born? Sure, sometimes it happens like Newton where an apple falls and you get that stroke of genius, but probably more often than not, innovation isn’t a singular individual ah-ha moment.

Instead, most innovations are born in places where ideas can combine, even collide with one another, to form newer ideas, bigger ideas, and better ideas. In short, the place (or the space) where innovation happens probably plays a bigger role than most people think.

Take Alcoa, the aluminum giant. In the early nineties they followed people into their homes to study how they consumed soda pop. They found that consumers would put a few cans of soda in the fridge from their 12 pack, which were sold in a suitcase type package back then, and the rest of the cans they’d put in the pantry. This presented a problem, when all the cold pop in the fridge was gone, consumers would choose a different cold drink instead of taking the time to put more cans (aluminum cans mind you) in the fridge.

Alcoa developed an ingenious solution, but how they developed it was equally ingenious. Check out the slides below to see what we mean…

Where is innovation born?

Acumen In Action™
In your next team meeting click through the slideshow and use your business acumen to explore the following:

  • What stood out to you about the story of Alcoa?
  • Why are the simplest ideas sometimes the best ideas?
  • What innovations has our team implemented?
    You may want to remind everyone that the goal is an innovative culture where even a simple idea that improves a process is celebrated.
  • Are there any ideas that we’ve passed on that we should maybe revisit?
  • How would you rate our environment? Have we created a place where ideas can connect?
  • How can we improve our space to foster more innovation?

Seeing the Big Picture
If you and your team have the book Seeing the Big Picture(Greenleaf, 2012) turn to page 30 and read the introduction to Profits. Why do so many innovative dot-coms no longer exist? What’s the relationship between innovation and profits?


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