When we’re seeking inspiration there’s no place too far, nor climate too cold to deter our discovery. In this episode we take you to Alaska and discover some compelling insights from one of the world’s oldest businesses: the fishing trade.
Barak Wright is a master story teller and accomplished audio producer. In the summer of 2012 he traveled to southern Alaska to work on a salmon fishing boat for a several weeks. Through a series of interviews with the seasoned pioneers of Alaskan fishing we learn that to truly innovate in business we must cultivate an agile, creative mind; something hard to come by on the waters of Neet’s Bay.
Special thanks to Christof Meyer – Innovation Director in the Richmond office – who introduced us to Barak Wright and made this episode possible.
From Prophet’s curator and provocateur team, Interested and Interesting is a monthly exploration of the business of brand, marketing, innovation, digital, design, and analytics. Hosts Geof and Josh introduce listeners to inspiring stories that engage and illustrate business principles in an abstract, provocative way. Our goal – to inspire listeners and liberate ideas to help drive business growth.
In the constant search of interesting, inspired and compelling stories, Prophet’s Chief Curator and Provocateur Andy Stefanovich invited a team of architects to help him redesign the second floor of his carriage house. In the space of 600 sq ft. these gifted creatives will plan, design and build an office/studio/meeting place for him and his team. This will become a sacred place to work, entertain, and stay inspired. Through this series of dispatches we will explore the creative process from the perspective of these design experts. What problem solving tools do they employ? Where do they find their inspiration? How do they face difficult challenges in creative and novel ways?
On the first day of the project, we invited our creative group to a series of idea sessions around what was possible in the space. Here Andy describes how things are getting started, and what he hopes for the future of the project.
Watch the video above, and join him in the journey to answering these questions!
The word, innovation, is so over used that it’s almost lost all meaning. Yet, as with all aspects of business, innovation evolves. Innovation will remain the process by which newness comes into the world, but the how of innovation is in flux. New business landscapes, new technologies, and the wearing out of old models require us to reimage how we innovate.
When we think of innovation we might think of Silicon Valley, Google, Apple, and schools like Stanford University. We might imagine brilliance being created everyday in these places, and the fumes of great ideas spewing out the windows of well designed buildings. And in fact, these are accurate portrayals of what innovation can look like. But it’s not the full story. Many businesses have misaligned views on how to achieve innovation. Employee motivation and collaboration is essential to innovate, but often businesses lack authenticity in these efforts. Keeping up with what’s current gives you a read on what’s in vogue, yet you don’t need to follow the entire world on Twitter to change your business. Culture is important; however you don’t need to have an office full of free thinkers to come up with something new. And you certainly don’t need a Mac to think differently.
There are a lot of beliefs that pervade the world of innovation. However, many of these beliefs have the potential to hold us back. Some of these beliefs are, in fact, myths: great stories that fail the test of reality. If we’re not careful, these myths of innovation can become barriers to our growth. …Continue reading
As 2012 winds down, we’re thinking of all of the brands that have inspired us this year. BOGO brands such as TOMS and Warby Parker come to mind, as do brands that have totally reinvented themselves, such as Microsoft, Fiat and JC Penney’s.
What brands inspired you this year, and why? Let us know in the comments!
Essentially, a woman named Sheena wore the same LDB (that’s “little black dress” in fashion parlance) for a full year – 365 days – as an exercise in sustainability and a fundraiser to support educating children living in Indian slums. It’s a project with the same spirit as Noah Scalin’s Skull-a-Day project and countless other I-must-do-x-task-for-365-days goals. But, for some reason, I gleaned fresh insights from Sheena’s project, specifically around the notions of constraints and optimism.
The author of the article I was reading said she was inspired not only by this woman’s ability to “live fashionably with less laundry” but also by the inherent truth that emerged from the project: “creativity thrives under constraint.” I think there’s something inspiring about knowing that constraints – whether a small budget, limited people, or a dwarfed amount of time – often produce the most interesting, unexpected results. Who would have known that a cap-sleeved, button down black dress could evolve into something appropriate for a Southern wedding and at the same time be the perfect outfit for running a marathon? Ironically, it seems constraints actually free us towards possibilities we didn’t know we were capable of achieving. For another example, check this out: MIT Students beat Nasa on Beer Budget. …Continue reading
Crayola is a legacy brand that has universal awareness that one associates with making colorful drawings as a child. The 64-count box of crayons represents for many the emotional symbol of what was great about childhood. The century old firm had challenges brought on in part by the advent of electronic competitors for a time, from television to gaming and in part by simple demographics. Crayola was in need of a refresh of their vision, offerings, and culture.
In the inaugural issue of the Journal of Brand Strategy, Crayola CMO Victoria Lozano speaks about how this was accomplished. The process started with the assembly of a team of influential people with conceptual skills that represented different functions and levels within the company, plus an additional few people from outside the firm. With outside consultants facilitating, they spent 20% of their time for four months developing a brand identity for Crayola and determining what the brand should stand for both internally and externally. They looked at the company, the brand and their customers from every angle. In particular, they considered the firm’s heritage and challenges and whether the target market should be restricted to children or instead focus on creativity and developing products for the inner child in adults. As anyone who has been involved in such projects knows, getting the concepts and words right is difficult. …Continue reading
A lot of people see things without observing what they might mean. At Prophet, we believe observing is key to generating breakthrough ideas and therefore encourage our clients to not only “look at more stuff” but also to think about it harder. Hands down, this is sometimes easier said than done. However, I do believe it is easier to draw on new inspiration than to simply sit down in front of a computer or in a conference room and come up with ideas. In my experience, the ideas you come up with in those confined office spaces will most often be limited to the small obstacle you are trying to crack, instead of the big challenge of entirely changing something for the better.
Last week, I watched Alison Klayman’s documentary on artist Ai Weiwei entitled Never Sorry. In Chinese, ‘Wei’ means ‘uncertainty’ and ‘future’, which makes Weiwei an appropriate name for a man making sure that it (future) stays that way (uncertain).
Besides from being a brilliant film on the political and societal landscape of China, Never Sorry is an inspiring journey into the mind of a person who looks at more stuff, thinks about it harder, and then immediately acts upon it. Weiwei describes himself as a chess player making moves to see how his opponents react. All of his actions appear to be quiet protests (with a few loud thrown in for good measure)– from 100 million hand-painted ceramic sunflower seeds in the Tate to 5000 backpacks on the façade of Haus der Kunst in Munich. It’s about being unique and about being treated as an individual, acknowledging the flaws in society and acting upon them. Lastly, it’s about the innate courage and hope that drive some people to do what others don’t.
Imagine how innovation could come to life if only companies were a little more rebellious? If, like Ai Weiwei, companies didn’t compromise too much. Imagine if it was your company that made the move which forced competitors to react. What would it be, and what’s stopping you from doing it? I bet it isn’t as frightening as what Ai Weiwei went through.
Exciting news to share – Andy Stefanovich’s proposed panel for SXSW 2013 has made it through to the public voting round! His panel will focus on The Museum Mentality: Why do we give ourselves permission to be inspired at a museum, but not at work?
The museum has long been a destination for those seeking inspiration. We give ourselves a unique permission to be more open and available to inspiration upon entering a museum. Yet, what if we gave ourselves that same permission in our careers, and gave our customers that same permission? What if we saw the world as a museum, seeing all things as sources of inspiration?
With a goal towards innovation for the growing businesses, Andy Stefanovich will challenge his audience to take on the “Museum Mentality.” Combining proven client based examples with real-world observations; Andy describes how taking on a “Museum Mentality” can help inspire you and your team to innovate with true impact. Interactive businesses have a unique responsibility to curate the experiences of their customers. Andy will challenge his audience to become both curator and artist in the museum of the world, using interactive businesses as his lens.
Public opinion accounts for 30% of the final selection requirements, and we would love your support in helping us get Andy to Austin next year. Voting ends August 31st.
What happens when 250 people get together to solve a problem?
In 2008, the global financial crisis caught the small country of Iceland directly in its cross-hairs. When all 3 of the country’s commercial banks failed, Iceland faced the largest economic collapse in history. By mid-2011 the economy had stabilized and Iceland began to turn its focus toward the next wave of growth.
In 2012, Prophet partnered with Promote Iceland, an organization with the mission of boosting Iceland’s image and reputation abroad by promoting tourism, industry, and Icelandic culture. Promote Iceland had identified six growth areas and was looking for innovative concepts they could activate to accelerate economic growth.
So we took the entire team of 250 Prophet teammates to Iceland and put our innovative problem solving approach into practice. We spent three days immersing in Iceland’s unique culture and environment. We talked with native Icelanders, experienced the art, culture, and music scene in Reykjavik, and engaged in diverse outdoor activities from caving to sea kayaking. Then, working side-by-side, teammates from all of Prophet’s practices and disciplines rolled up our sleeves and put our right-to-left problem solving approach into practice. The process resulted in over two dozen robust concepts, three of which the Promote Iceland team selected for implementation.
This article about a seemingly “crazy” idea that turned into a patented assisted baby delivery device fits somewhere in between Andy Stefanovich’s “museum mentality” mindset and the trend toward creating tiered healthcare experiences. It all stemmed from a joking conversation with friends about wine corks getting stuck in their bottles. Hours later, in the middle of the night, Jorge Odon awoke with a brilliant idea on how to apply his solution to a wine bottle dilemma to an actual, life-threatening issue: obstructed labor.
There are two points in this article that I found to be quite profound:
Sometimes, less is more.
Inspiration and innovation can truly come from anywhere and anyone.
When we think about buying a car, we think first about the base model, and then the options or “bells and whistles.” When we think of technology and innovation, our preferences migrate towards increased complexity. But this article points toward the need to have options, or tiered innovation. Simplify and strip down, rather than build-up and over-complicate.
As to the source of inspiration, this article goes beyond “Looking at More Stuff” and really brings to light Andy’s insights about the potential that can come from being more intuitively plugged-in to our own environment. The innovation of this inexpensive, potentially life-saving device would never have come to bear if Odon hadn’t bothered to connect the dots between the wine bottle and a birthing canal.
Who would have thought a wine bottle would be a source of inspiration, and that a mechanic would be the one to connect the dots? What are the kinds of things that we experience in our daily lives that have alternate applications? What can we do to better connect the dots?