Innovation looks to the future…and can be found everywhere.

After WW II Sam Jacobsen ran a store that sold milk. Business was poor, so Sam expanded his hours. One day, a clerk mislabeled the price of milk. I forgot the numbers, but I think it was supposed to be 66 cents and it came out as 99 cents. This was a 50% difference. Sam observed no change in sales but concluded that people would pay for convenience. He built up a large chain of convenience stores called PDQ.

Jim Sorenson was at one time Utah’s richest person. He was a detail man to the drug industry. He observed doctors and listened closely to them. Then he created solutions. He replaced cloth masks with paper ones, designed an automatic intravenous drug pump, as well as the first real time computerized heart monitor.

He did this by defining questions that begged to be asked.

Is it easy to be innovative?

Yes and no! It depends on you.

Check out areas of the economy that need improvement. Start with education and medicine; both are ripe for change.

Ask why certain things are what they are. For example, we harvest corn for ethanol. It takes 50 acres of corn to equal 1 acre of algae. Why do we use corn instead of algae? The reason is that farmers have political access and power. Could this be changed?

Look at biomimetics. George de Mestal noted that cockleburs, are a wild plant that sticks to fur stuck to his dog’s fur and designed Velcro.

Observation, imagination and the ability to suspend “can’t do it” mentality is the road to innovation.


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