Inspiring Innovation Series: Workshop Wonders

It should come as no surprise to our readers that collaboration has been identified as one of the top trends of 2010. Collaboration is nothing new. People have been collaborating for eternity. In fact, Charles Darwin once…


It should come as no surprise to our readers that collaboration has been identified as one of the top trends of  2010.  Collaboration is  nothing new. People have been collaborating for eternity.  In fact, Charles Darwin once said, “ In
the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned
to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed”.


Collaboration has stayed “on trend” all these years simply because it works. Especially
now that we are operating in a networked, digital age where open
platforms and social media are the norm, collaboration is as important
as ever.  Companies may now claim to have a “collaborative approach to
business”, but what exactly does that mean and is this just the
buzzword of the day?   At Sparxoo, we believe workshops are a great way
to ensure collaboration is more than jargon at your company.

Workshops are a truly collaborative way to supplement  both
secondary research and traditional and non-traditional primary
research. No matter the client, we encourage them to roll their sleeves
up and participate in our day long worksessions. These workshops
exemplify collaboration as they bring client, agencies and partners
together across multiple levels and strata of the organization.
Learning from history, we want our clients’ brands to be differentiated
from their competitors and we believe the workshop exercises outlined
below are a fun, productive, and collaborative way to do so.  Outlined
below are  snapshots of three such workshop exercises you can easily
replicate to inspire breakthrough innovation for your brand.

I. The hat trick.

You may have been told at some point to “put your thinking cap on,”
but what exactly does that mean?  Next time a professor or boss asks
you such a reductionist question, consider replying “which cap?” There
are, in fact, many different kinds of “thinking caps” a company could
consider sporting and, depending on which thinking cap, they may be
inspired by different thoughts and reach different conclusions. This
“hat trick” exercise is derived from Edward de Bono’s  “Six Thinking
Hats” (   Besides being
a fun team bonding exercise, this exercise is an important
personification tool to help you work through the reactions—opposition
and support—from various audiences approaching a problem differently.

In a more literal interpretation of de Bono, you can assign the team
members different colors that represent different outlooks or potential
reactions (for example, the supporter, naysayer, etc) and then have
each person role play according to their symbolic assigned color.  You
can reference de Bono’s assigned colored hats or brainstorm your own
color designation. Black for example could represent the devil’s
advocate, yellow the blind follower, or white the fickle.


If you want to take this exercise a step further, you can literally
give team members physical hats representing the various audiences:
perhaps a policeman, a chef, and a doctor.  In this situation, besides
having fun wearing the actual hats, we can understand what the
challenges might be to these audiences and can then work through ways
to preclude naysayers, for example, by thinking what the red thread  or
commonalities would be to please these disparate audiences.

II. Cut it out.

Great brands stand the test of time by not only thriving in good
times, but also enduring in bad.  While you cannot predict the future,
you can help plan for it the best you can with this “Cut it Out”

What is the fundamental ingredient of your brand?  For example, if
you are Coke, perhaps it is water or the disposable can.  Now imagine a
world in which this ingredient is eliminated, compromised in some way,
or is simply out of fashion.  Then what?  Perhaps Coke creates a thick
syrup that is directly squeezed onto the tongue, perhaps the syrup is
added to lime or another juice.  If people no longer want disposable
cans, perhaps Coke creates a home delivery service of the syrup which
can be pumped through the kitchen faucet or  is delivered by door like
the old milk bottle service.

The point of this exercise is to brainstorm perhaps far-out there
scenarios, not to prepare the company necessarily for these actual
challenges but to spur innovation in their current…