What this cute puppy taught me about innovation

Meet Alfie.

Alfie the puppy has been part of our family for only a few weeks now, but he has had a profound effect on our family life. Our whole lifestyle has changed because of this cute little guy.

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But what has Alfie got to do with innovation?

After observing the way he approaches the world, with all the new smells, sights, noises and experiences, I think we can actually learn something from his reaction to these wonderful stimuli. I wrote a piece a little while back about how I define innovation, and this behaviour can be applied to both process and openness approaches.

What should we learn from the puppy?

  • Be curious – Smell everything, taste everything (literally if you are a puppy, metaphorically if you are looking to innovate).
  • Find your safe place, use it as a base to face the unknown until you find your feet – Alfie likes to sit under a chair, and when the vacuum was going past, he was emboldened to come out and give it a sniff. Now he is used to it, he pays it no mind.
  • Drink plenty of water – natch.
  • Play – Alfie loves his toy leopard, he also likes to play tug, ‘kill’ his soft toys and run after his squeaky ball. Integrating play into working sessions (for example ideation or discussion) often sparks the creative part of the mind.

Be curious – Smell everything, taste everything

  • Socialisation and exposing Alfie to new people, experiences and places is very important – for puppies, it’s about a happy, well-mannered dog. For innovation, it’s about testing and iterating your product and anticipating the needs of your users.
  • Sometimes, one must dig – Alfie loves digging up the garden, it’s in his nature. Part of innovation is about understanding innate behaviour and applying logic to our solutions.
  • Finally, get lots of sleep – works for puppies and humans.

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