Supply Chain Innovation: Finding Your Crayons

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Remember when you were a kid? You’d play with your friends, eat, sleep and generally be merry. Getting up in the morning was a treat and you’d look forward to each new day like it was Saturday. Of course, when you’re a kid every day IS Saturday.

So, what happened?

On the path to adulthood, you learned many things. You learned right from wrong. You
learned when to be quiet and how to behave. You learned how to colour inside the lines and follow the rules. Basically, you learned how to be boring – and probably bored.

Think about the characteristics of a kid: An abundance of energy, curious to a fault, fearless, open-minded, good natured, and a friend to anyone. You can add creativity to the list as well. Give a kid a pack of crayons and some empty space (NOT a colouring book with all those damn lines to keep inside of!) and prepare to be astonished. Kids love their crayons and like to draw things that exist only in their imaginations.

So why must we grow out of our childhood? You can often trace the root of the problem to how we’ve been taught and how we are expected to learn. When you think about it, school is a highly structured, rules-based environment designed to enforce conformity. Not exactly a hotbed for innovation and creativity.

The late Gordon MacKenzie wrote a brilliant book that highlighted this problem called,
“Orbiting the Giant Hairball”. In it, he tells a story about going to schools to talk to the students about becoming an artist. In every class he asks the students to raise their hands if they are artists and like to draw. Of the dozens and dozens of schools he visited, the results were the same. Kindergarten and grade 1, all the kids raise their hands and insist that they’re artists. But as you go higher up in the grades, fewer and fewer kids admit to being artistic. By grade 6, no hands are raised. Not one!

So given that most business organizations are infested with grown-ups, how can they
possibly come up with new, innovative ideas?

Recently we came across a group of folks who think you should have child-like attitude
forever. Kim and Jason Kotecki have coined a term for a disease that they think is gripping society and preventing people from creating new things and enjoying life. It’s an ailment called Adultitis and it

“is a common condition occurring in people between the ages of 21– 121, marked by chronic dullness, mild depression, moderate to extremely high stress levels, a general fear of change, and, in some extreme cases, the inability to smile. Patients can appear aimless, discontent, and anxious about many things. Onset can be accelerated by an excess burden of bills, overwhelming responsibilities, or a boring work life. Generally, individuals in this condition are not fun to be around.”

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar?

If you want to be innovative, you first need to stop Adultitis in its tracks. Better find your crayons.

Do you remember where you left them?

Related Posts:

Innovation and Transportation: What’s the Holdup?

Alternative Energy and Supply Chain Software: What’s the Connection?

Eliminating the Gridlock in Transportation

Photo Credit: John Morgan


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