A Mother’s Innovation Hacks to Cope With Boredom
With Mother’s day around the corner and a lot of us moms in lockdown (some wondering if we will even get our annual token lunch) we could all use some innovation hacks to cope with boredom, homeschooling and the compulsions of career transitions.
Let’s start with my experience: We decided to follow agile principles in our quest to implement an autonomous ‘idea generation’ process to fight boredom and channelize extraneous energy. We had communicated clearly to the team leader about the expectations. His associate seemed to nod and give us all the right assurances. After all, this was a big assignment. We were operating based on sound principles enunciated by a best in class guru. The day before we went live we had the team leader rehearse the SOPs (standard operating procedures). His associate also participated in the dry run. We now felt we had followed due process and this idea of a team centric innovative practice would bring desired results. So how did we end up with a melee of bubble bath, hand sanitizer and shampoo on the carpeted floors
at a time when these products are hard to come by? Perhaps, I forgot to mention that the project was about managing bored kids tired of quarantine tedium! And that the team leader was our 6 year old son. His associate and co-worker was none other than his 4 year old brother!
The great innovation experiment was to see if we could apply innovation principles and processes to get our kids to manage boredom and channel their energy into creative channels. I would have written this off as a total failure if it were not for some innovation lessons that became apparent the next morning. In summary we found: 1) There was too much process and too many evaluation gates. Now, I am classically six sigma certified and innovation trained. Hence it is not easy for me to admit to process overload, especially because innovation often falls between two stools. It is either sans process or not agile enough 2) Overthinking the workspace: would it have really mattered
which bedroom got plastered in shampoo? Should where we work matter? 3) Too many choices. The paradox of choice is certainly not new; but it is particularly true for innovation. After all, isn’t that the very nature of the exercise? When one door closes, innovate to get through to the other side!
Excited about the learning I replicated this innovation with my colleagues. I used the new learning with the team in my lab, in the background of Covid-19 and the changing times. We had to take on the challenge of re-orienting data sets and changing course on some personalization work we were doing in the Lab. Rather than run it through a market sizing exercise and then moving up to cluster mapping, we just ran the latter. Next we isolated the most significant variables using secondary data. Where we would have previously come together in a series of workshops to finesse it, we instead went ahead and ran it by a few key stakeholders. This process innovation enabled us to quickly develop a model and typing tool that we could use to run peer benchmarking analyses for our customers.
The key question: would I have been blessed enough to have been able to apply innovation principles at home and then bring the same disruptive AHA moments to my work if I wasn’t a mom? Further, would I have gotten here if my kids and husband weren’t enthusiastic enough to go along with the experiment? And, most importantly, would I have been able to deconstruct and get to real time innovation hacks if I was not a parent? In my humble opinion, I think not. Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to feature a few other mom innovators who have lessons to share with us all. Stay tuned to hear more innovation hacks from other Mom Disruptors starting next week.
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