The Five Innovatorâ€™s DNA skills are observing, associating, questioning, experimenting, and networking. You can put these skills to use in everyday situations.
The problem. I had fruit flies one summer day. This is fine in the 10th grade biology classroom but bad in your home. I was OK with an occasional few flying around but when one landed in my glass of red wine I knew it was time to spring to action.
I networked online. Someone else posted something about it on Facebook. People had suggested creating a trap.
I questioned. I asked Google how to create a fruit fly trap. I saw examples that used funnels and red wine or apple cider vinegar.
I associated. I noticed the fruit flies enjoyed red wine. I noticed they like white surfaces. I noticed they like fruit (shocker!). I noticed they like to hang out on the edge of glasses. I could associate trap ideas from wine, white, fruit, and edges.
I now had a lot of ideas. The potential solutions were growing and developingâ€¦much like the fruit flies in my kitchen.
I experimented. I built a trap using red wine and a white card on top with a hole in it. I caught a few. I thought I would catch more. I had the wine for them but maybe I needed to have a separate area where the fruit flies could smoke too? I didnâ€™t like this particular trapâ€¦wine is expensive! I observed the results and still saw that many fruit flies were hanging out elsewhereâ€¦they didnâ€™t necessarily go through the whole.
I experimented again. I added a second trap. This one used a coffee filter style paper white funnel and led to a glass with apple cider vinegar. There was a hole for the flies to enter. A few came into this trap but not as many.
I experimented again. I added a third trap. I remembered the age-old wisdom. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. I thought about this metaphor. I think it was getting at the value of using something sweet. Heck, fruit flies are called fruit flies for a reason. For the new trap I integrated this age-old metaphorical wisdom and my observations. I simply put the banana peel from the banana I just ate in the glass. I used a simple white index card on top of the glass. I left enough space on the edge (not a whole in the card) for the fruit flies to come on in to the buffet. Sure enoughâ€¦within minutes I had more flies in that glass than in all of the other experiments combined. Of the three traps on the counterâ€¦the fruit flies had certainly cast their vote with their wings. I went to the banana trap and simply closed the index card on top of the glass and then brought it outside to release the flies. This was a successful innovation thanks to networking, questioning, observing, associating, and experimenting.
What ways have you been doing everyday innovationâ€¦using skills like networking, questioning, observing, associating, or experimenting? What innovative solutions have you developed? What experiments should you run next?
New Idea: What if 10th grade biology classes did a section on innovation using fruit fly trap building after their genetics section? Theyâ€™ve got to catch the flies somehow, right?