The Innovation Walkabout

Did you ever notice how much you take in visiting a new city or town for the first time?

Maybe it’s time to get out more.

The Innovation Walkabout is a simple technique that adopts what we do naturally when encountering something new. The method is as simple as it sounds.

The first step is to pick an issue you’re looking to develop. This might be expanding a market, serving a client better, or changing your focus.

Our second step is to find a physical space where you can learn about this issue. This would be where your customers are, your competition might be, or something else.

The third step is to go for a walk to this place with the mindset of being a newcomer. What do you notice?

What are people doing? Pay attention to the kind of relationships that you see. Are there structures — physical or otherwise — that inhibit or facilitate what happens in that space?

What Do You Notice?

When you notice something, ask yourself: what else? We suggest adopting a coaching stance by asking these questions:

  1. What is going on and what captures your attention?
  2. What else do you notice? Keep asking: what else and you’ll be amazed at what you come up with.
  3. Can you imagine what your collaborators would notice?
  4. How about what your competitors might notice?
  5. What would someone who sees this scene every day notice?

When we ask these questions, we start taking the stance of different audiences — this helps us to learn. Take notes on what you see, sense, think, and hear. By taking better notes you can increase your learning, too.

So What?

This seems almost absurdly simple, but that is where its power lies. We can do this almost anytime. The metrics for success in this exercise are:

  1. New insights.
  2. New ideas.
  3. Number of ideas.
  4. Quality — detail — within those ideas.

If you are looking to innovate and need some new intelligence, try walking outside your door. Be intentional and purposive in your walking. Practice what Rob Walker calls “The Art of Noticing” and you will find you notice a lot more.

You might be surprised at what you see and find to help you out.

We design systems to help integrate simple and complex strategies for learning and innovating. If you want help to grow, learn and innovate, reach out and lets go for a walk. Who knows what we’ll notice together?

Image Credit: yns plt on Unsplash

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