It’s been a long tradition of mine to plant my seeds for sweet peas in the ground on Patriot’s Day (this year it was on April 18). I get to harvest them before the 4th of July. As I was working the damp, rich soil, I thought of parallels to the work I do as creative catalyst, consultant and qualitative market researcher.
I plant peas in early Spring with the expectation of a hearty yield in summer. I become “Earth Mom” to my seedlings, committing to nurture and protect them with water and compost, thinning when needed, and providing support stakes as they grow. I know from years gone by that I’ll worry about their conditions when my business takes me on the road and hope my husband has the good sense to water them. Of course, there are no guarantees! Peas need the sustenance of natural forces–sun and warmth, a kind wind and non-invasive pests. As a gardener for many years I know the success rate is never a 100%, but it’s always bountiful and delicious.
I’ve heard that peas can grow under artificial light, but if they receive just a one second burst of natural, full-spectrum light they will open their leaves every 24 hours after that to look for more? I like that I don’t have to teach peas how to be peas; growth decisions are built in if they get what they need, when they need it. If the afore-mentioned clueless husband forgets to water them for 3 days and then drowns them right before I come home, in hopes I won’t notice, I will…and the plants will suffer. Delivering the right stuff but too late for the growth cycle just encourages decay, pests and the wrath of Mother Nature.
A report just issued by an international economic agency, The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development noted that there is increasing pessimism about global economic growth. This is due to volatility in financial markets, the potential British exit from the European Union and Europe’s inability to find a common response to the refugee problem. OECD said that this weak growth was becoming chronic. “This low growth trap involves a cycle in which diminished expectations become self-fulfilling,” said Angel Gurria, the OECD’s Secretary-General.
We’ve seen this cycle repeated many times. In periods of uncertainty many firms cut back on expenditures, and are cautious about innovation. While this financial strategy may make sense for the short term, we all know that it’s sure to have impact on what can be brought to the table in the future. Conserving resources, especially during drought, is prudent for the crops we have in the ground already. But planting for future crops we’ll need is an absolute requirement so we don’t eat up all our past work.
How to get more “bang” for the investment dollars you do have? Perhaps this year’s innovation activities are not focused on new products, but on ways to make better use current resources.
Some years ago we worked with a major brand that was being asked to slash 10 million dollars in business expenditures! A mind-boggling number for sure, and the first reaction was to consider letting go of large numbers of personnel. Fortunately a visionary leader intervened. We worked closely together with him running a series of innovation meetings with different business stakeholders: from first line supervisors at the plants, to members of the executive leadership team. It was the creative factory workers who first noticed significant ways to save money through some easy-to-implement changes. Continued idea development resulted in short term net growth! The long-term result was huge savings to the business and no one was let go! We’re very proud of that work.
For other clients, innovation investment in lean times has focused on developing deeper insight into existing customers’ needs, creating more distinctive and compelling communications or improving upon product packaging to make it more user-friendly.
Would your business like to have a great harvest this year? If so, let’s talk! We can strategize about an ideation or research plan that’s effective, productive and mindful of your dollars.
Practical Imagination Enterprises, email@example.com
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