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Innovation: Turning An Irritant Into A Pearl

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to help you turn a bad experience into a creative idea. Reading time: 2:13

             The melting carton of ice cream oozed all over the seat in the row boat. The faster he rowed, the quicker the ice cream seemed to melt along with his visions of a fun picnic on the island with his girlfriend.

         A 15-minute rowing trip turned into an hour struggle against changing winds and waves.

    And Ole Evinrude got mad.

      He took that irritant of having to fight those waves with only a rowing paddle and turned that grueling and frustrating experience into a pearl of innovation. He engineered the boating industry’s first outboard motor.

          That’s what creative leaders do. They take ordinary problems and turn them into extraordinary innovations in much the same way a pearl is formed: in self-defense. Oysters create a pearl sac to seal off the irritation from a parasite inside its shell, or an attack from outside that injures its tissue. The pearl forms when the oysters “gets mad” at the irritant.

        Josephine Cochrane got mad.

       She took her irritant of having her fine china cracked and broken too often washing by hand and turned that frustrating experience into a pearl of innovation. Josephine Cochrane invented the automatic dishwasher.

       Levin Hutchins got mad.

       He took his irritant habit of oversleeping and turned that frustrating experience into a pearl of innovation. Levin Hutchins invented the alarm clock.

      Lewis Waterman got mad.

         He took his irritant of a pen that seemed to leak every time he was about to have a client sign an insurance contract and turned that frustrating experience into a pearl of innovation. Lewis Waterman invented the fountain pen.

     So the next time the proverbial ice cream is melting all around you, get mad and turn your frustration into a sparkling array of innovative mastery. And a pearl of creativity.

Today’s ImproveMINT

Think of problems as stimulants to innovation to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

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