Help Me Inspire Innovation
November 1, 2011 2:52 PM   Subscribe

I'm leading an innovation session and I need charming stories, motivational pitches, activities and videos. Anyone got any?

I have been tasked with leading an Innovation Session at work. My job is pretty much just to break people into groups and then get their innovative juices flowing. So I ideally need the following:
1. Stories about successful innovations that came out of nowhere and changed the world!
2. A few charming anecdotes about how innovations run up against the status quo and people are dumb ("No one will ever need a computer in their house," "Bathing makes you sick," "You just send 140-character messages into the ether? That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard of," etc.)
3. Methods of innovation - how to think about innovating (this one's the tricky one)
4. Some little activity I can give people to get them in the right frame of mind (e.g. there's a Rorschach ink blot test that looks like nothing, but if you turn it 90 degrees it obviously looks like a boat traveling on the water. So the purpose of that test is to test your creative picture-turning ability.)
5. Ideally a youtube video like the gorilla-walking-through-basketball-players one because that's what they used last year and everyone loved it. Some kind of thing that rewards outside-the-box thinking.

You get the idea. Any one have any stories/games like this that they've been subjected to lately that they can toss my way?
posted by pokeydonut to Work & Money (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Do you know Ten Bullets by Tom Sachs?
posted by Ideefixe at 3:23 PM on November 1, 2011

I like Charles Leadbeater's example of how the mountain bike was created through creative collaboration (in the first few minutes of this talk).
posted by prenominal at 3:24 PM on November 1, 2011

I can't find a better source for it at the moment, but I've often seen this anecdote quoted in "question conventional wisdom" speeches: "There will never be a mass market for motorcars - about 1,000 in Europe - because that is the limit on the number of chauffeurs available." (spokesman for Daimler Benz). There are more here (again, not well attributed, but still perhaps useful).

You might want to google "matchstick puzzles" for the creative picture-turning-type exercises you mentioned. Also, pub trivia "math" questions like this one solved by our exalted 'Ass-Jittering Cattle' London MeFi team.
posted by argonauta at 4:02 PM on November 1, 2011

If it's a small gathering (or break out into smaller groups), put everyone into a circle and pass out one sheet of company letterhead and a pen to each participant. Ask everyone to write their own name in the center. Instruct them to pass the sheet to their right in one-minute intervals and to write the three words that best describe the passer's gifts. (The passer is to their left, the one who just gave them the paper). It's remarkable how many people treasure these, even many years later when they've moved on to other positions.

Something else, from the "New Games" book is group juggling. This works best with 10-20 participants. Another circle. Three balls of different size and color. Begin with one ball and ask each participant to toss the ball to someone who hasn't yet caught it. If names are known, the tosser should call out the tossee's name before throwing. When everyone has caught twice introduce the second ball, then after two rounds the third. This is just lots of fun and a good ice-breaker and team builder. Check out New Games for more great ideas.
posted by R2WeTwo at 5:26 PM on November 1, 2011

I used this video to open an executive summit last year, and people reacted very positively. It does a great job of getting you to focus on other people and their narratives, rather than your own.
posted by jbickers at 7:14 AM on November 2, 2011

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