by: Idris Mootee

Here's a photo of us with our Fengshui consultant Paul Ng, he was working with our interior designer to maximize positive energy flow in our creative space. His analsyis was this new place is perfect for innovation. Nice to hear that since we've just signed a 5 year lease. A little bit of optimization work is needed, a waterfall or any other water scene on one of the walls on the East side of your office. This is more of standard practice. You can do that if you have a compass.

Innovation requires a new type of leadership. Innovation often needs to deal with a lot of unknowns and to go against industry dogmas. Innovation requires leaders that aspire, mobilize, envision and dream. Innovation leaders chase big dreams. Apple pictured music-on-the-go with a totally new experience; Wal-Mart envisioned affordability for the masses. Each started with a bold idea that goes against industry assumptions. Each declaration came from a leader (Steve Jobs, Sam Walton) who was committed to following through. Innovation goes hand in hand with leadership.

Here’s an innovation idea that I think is bold, creative and potentially highly impactful. I was fascinated to read about Simon Berry's (CEO of Ruralnet in the UK) idea suggesting using Coca Cola’s distribution capabilities in developing countries to distribute rehydration salts? Maybe by dedicating one compartment in every 10 crates as 'the life saving' compartment? This is truly an innovative idea leveraging commercial infrastructure for public good. There's no better way to build a great brand.

For 10 years, Simon worked all over the world as part of the British aid effort. He thinks there is a simple way to help the one in five children in Africa who die from simple causes - usually diarrhoea. He first had this idea 20 years ago while working in NE Zambia where 1 in 5 children die before the age of 5 from dehydration caused by diarrhoea - a situation happening then which is still happening now. At that time he talked to various people about the idea but it failed to gain traction.

Simon was inspired by the CEO's conference hosted by Gordon Brown to blog his idea on June this year. He then repeatedly contacted Coca Cola but was having no impact. He tried to get his idea debated on Radio 4's iPM program without success. So, on Sunday, 18/5/08, Simon decided to set up a Facebook group which grew rapidly and he re-started lobbying iPM. This time a feature was run, Eve Graham (The New Seekers) sang new words to 'Let's Teach The World To Sing' and the BBC got a response from Coca Cola, who finally agreed to talk. A lot of effort to just get to this stage. Double bottom line is still foreign to many unfortunately.

In just 2 weeks, the Facebook group grew 1,400 strong and is now growing very quickly. It includes members from most countries in the world. Membership includes a frontline organization that has been working in rehydration for 20 years. No question this is one of the most innovative ideas that I’ve came across in my 25 years strategy and innovation career. There are two lessons about this story. First is the power of a big idea and the other is the power of social media.

Here is one interesting innovation from a Korean designer Jaebeom Jeong in a project called Cartrider. Definitely a nice re-mix of an old design. Enjoy the weekend.


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