Inspiration for Innovation: Take a Walk


By: Anne Orban, MEd, NPDP

It’s Summer time, and the living is easy. Why not get out from behind your desk and into new surroundings in pursuit of inspiration for innovation. Find out about what, other than the temperature, is causing folks to work up a sweat. Here’s a starting checklist for places to go. You can:

  • Visit companies in your value chain that you ordinarily do not
  • Connect with people in other areas of your company
  • Walk around in your own functional area
  • Shadow a completely different functional expert for a day
  • Spend the day in the company cafeteria getting to know people you don’t know

Whatever you do, you’ll need to unpack some current baggage. You’ll need to leave what you already think you know behind and work to adopt an ‘aw shucks’ frame of mind that is open to all that is there to hear and see, as if you were truly naïve.

You’ll need different lenses for your eyes so that you can see with different perspectives. You’ll need to see what’s close up, and also visualize what it looks like from 300 feet or 3,000 feet up.

You’ll need a hat to protect from the glare of the immediate and to pull over your eyes to help focus your mind as you take time for the important work of reflection to make new connections.

So, if you go out looking for bears and you don’t find any, is that failing to plan properly or just bad luck? What if you heard and then saw a pileated woodpecker? Or what if you came across a mule deer doe with her fawn? What if you heard a digging sound but could not find the source of it? Would that be planning failure and bad luck? You could make it both if you didn’t manage your biases and assumptions and stay open for what’s actually out there when you leave your desk. With a little daring to go off your beaten path with fresh eyes and an open mind, you will find inspiration for innovation.

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