Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh went to university to study product design, with sights set on a career ahead as a professional innovator. She had a passion for imagining and reimagining, iterating and improving. But that passion led her somewhere quite unexpected.
Almost by accident, Jane created Sugru – the mouldable self-setting rubber stuff that Forbes magazine described as “21st century duct tape”. And while blobs of this adhesive, rubbery stuff might not, at first, look like innovation, it really is a gamechanger.
The formula of Sugru is, in itself, an innovation, of course. But what most interested us was its power to make innovators of us all. Jane understood that, with a blob of Sugru at our fingertips, she could give everyone the power to invent and reinvent. Sure, we may only be mending a broken cable, or baby-proofing our new smartphone, but we become hackers with the means to literally mould the world to our own needs.
We used Jane’s story – from inception to Sugru’s latest crowdfunding round – as inspiration for a new project of our own. And you can see the result – one in a series of comic strip business stories – below.
But it got us thinking about whether the greatest innovations of all, are those that simply enable others to innovate. After all, we know that while it is possible to develop our own capacity for great ideas, all of us can find that spark of genius given the right circumstances
Often, when our team is scribing an event, and capture ideas as they emerge, there’s a buzz in the room when attendees from every strata of an organisation realise that their contribution can sit alongside the CEO’s. In those situations it’s our job to listen carefully to what is being said, whoever is saying it. Through scribing, everyone’s ideas become part of the bigger picture. By collaborating in the creation of that picture, teams create a space in which new ideas, big and small, can grow and develop.
Perhaps, as a small, creative company, it’s easier for us at Scriberia than for some, to foster a culture in which everyone feels not just able to innovate, but a responsibility to do so. We certainly feel lucky to have a team that surprises us daily with new ideas for making the most of our skills and services.
Of course, that’s not quite the same thing as an innovation process. And a new idea isn’t always the same thing as a great idea, or an idea that will push our business in the right direction. (Our efforts to marshal those ideas would make for a whole other series of posts). But, nevertheless, we value the culture we’ve created; a culture in which we all feel that the power to shape the future of our company is at our fingertips.