In praise of simple ideas!

In my blog about the first snow chaos of this winter I argued that innovation was as much about collaboration and timing as about great ideas. In particular I wanted to know how we could manage better as a community when the council is overwhelmed.

Well the second snow chaos has provided a good example of where simple ideas can be taken from other areas and other markets.

By chance when buying our tree for this Xmas I bought a snow shovel as it was on sale at the same garden centre. Why did I buy one now and not in years gone by?

Well the bad experience of using my heavy garden spade was only about 10 days previously (i.e. not a year ago or longer) - and more snow had now been forecast. Secondly it only cost £14.95 which was an easy decision to pay for "insurance".

A week on and it snowed very heavily. Once it stopped I used my new-found tool-for-the-job to clear the driveway and some of the public road outside my house. All very easily and very quickly if a little back-achy! I could not believe how efficient the snow-shovel was. Light to use and yet moved a mass of snow with each sweep.

The next day I lent it to my neighbour who was still struggling with a garden spade. He lamented having not yet bought one. Sadly the community in our road and apparently throughout our town also had no snow shovels judging by the uncleared pavements. We even thought about starting a snow clearing service but would people pay? And how long would my back last?

So why the innovation blog about it?

Because snow shovels have probably been around for centuries and many new inventions abound. For instance have a look at for just one Canadian promo. Or this for a prototype automatic snow clearer

The point is that even the basic day-to-day solution to a problem in one market (Canada in this case) is a huge advance in another (the UK). Actually more in the south of the UK. One imagines that snow shovels are already de rigour in Scotland!

So my innovation point is to suggest you look at the solutions that your company provides and look for new emerging markets in unusual places. What is changing where? Global warming seems to be changing weather patterns around the world and making the need for snow shovels to be more prevalent (at least in the UK). What changes are taking place that affect your markets or your customers? Emerging growing markets - or declining ones?

A bit of thought and trends research (Google it) can pay dividends!