Innovation facilitator, The Clay Street Project, Procter & Gamble
Hershenson is an integral part of an eight-person shop of designers, educators, and marketing pros that solve innovation problems for Procter & Gamble brands and noncompetitive Fortune 500 companies.
"We believe innovation is a by-product of a highly effective team. So we've developed an immersive and customized two-week session called Shift. Our objective is to help teams see things differently in order to solve problems.
The teams that come to us are having large-scale problems that keep their leaders up at night. Either it's something out of the normal scope of their business or something that crosses businesses. Maybe a team is having trouble working together, or maybe it needs to slow down and incubate an idea before rushing to the next step. Others come when they have something so new—a brand or an internal process—that they don't know how to translate inspiration into action.
At the beginning of the process, everyone on the team shares his or her perspective on the problem. Then, we bring in one of the 300 experts in our network. These experts are rarely in parallel businesses; they come from the arts, education, or science. We tell them not to try to solve the problem for the team but to do what they do best. For example, when we had a team that didn't understand how important its product was in people's lives, we brought in artists to talk about their processes and how everyday objects have meaning. For another team, we brought in an acting coach to help build the brand's character. The coach explained how actors develop characters by not just playing the part, but being the part. We've even brought in a cultural mythologist to help give a fresh take on logos."
A version of this article appeared in the February 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.