Travel and Innovation

Paul Sloane in his recent newsletter says “Recently I visited the beautiful city of Antwerp and while there I filled my car at a fully automated petrol station.  There was no attendant and no shop.  You just put your credit card into the machine and then fill up.  It reminded me of two innovation lessons.  You can always get innovative ideas by traveling because people in other countries solve problems in different ways.  Secondly a good way to innovate is by eliminating things – in this case the attendant and the shop.”
Now what this small note tells me is that traveling to a new place can fuel your innovation quotient. You can pick up ideas from the way people in this country live and deal with the inherent problems that they have in their system. For example visitors to India can pick up a tip or two on Jugaad. The moment you are in an environment other than you live in, you start seeing the things that are obviously different from your own. It reminds me that a few years back I was traveling in Bhutan and I realized there not many shops selling clothes or garments. In fact the small number of shops that did have clothes were not the clothes common people were wearing there and were obviously meant for the high end visitors. Upon enquiry I figured out that most people there weave their own clothes, which may seem very primitive to most of us, but it is the way of life there. Now you never know when this brainwave strikes someone and they make this idea of weaving your own cloth popular and it may become a fashion statement to wear self woven clothes. 
Secondly, the difference between how you operate and how they operate can give you the models or small tricks to use while doing a formal idea generation, like the author picked up the idea of elimination which can be and is used popularly in product designs. 
On a lighter note, this tells is that a true professional will always find his subject’s angle no matter he or she is, working or on vacation.
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