“Bold, but unrealistic idea.” said the workshop facilitator.
That was five years ago at an Innovation workshop. But, I could still hear those words ringing loud and clear in my ears. I could still remember the disappointed look on the faces of my teammates as our hopes of emerging as champions of the innovation competition crushed under the weight of that statement.
The task was simple - Innovate on an idea, present it and the winning team stands a chance to turn that idea into a reality.
Dare to be different in theory; stay within the lines in practice?
Our team toyed with the idea of incorporating Virtual Reality (VR) in tourism which will allow customers to make better and more informed decisions.
The idea gradually rolled into more “absurd” things such as a VR Travel spa where one can go for some moments of escapism, perhaps in Poland, even if they weren’t planning a vacation at that moment.
Excitement continued to mount as we built on the idea like Lego blocks. When it was our turn to present our ideas, we were so excited that even the ones in our team who had severe stage fright skipped their way onstage.
The audience was very responsive with questions and comments. There was also a lot of skepticism and criticism. Then came the crushing statement by one of the facilitators during the judges’ feedback.
That was a very bold but unrealistic idea.
Our team lost the competition and went our separate ways after that workshop.
I never understood why was it an unrealistic idea. Just hours ago before the competition, we were told to draw outside the lines and think outside of the box. After all, VR is far from being a foreign concept.
It wasn’t unrealistic, it was just an uncomfortable idea
The experience got me thinking:
[callout class="tip"]Isn’t innovation about creating a better experience for ourselves with the help of technology?[/callout]
There were already some pretty incredible innovations in 2011 (hello, Siri!) that seem so normal today, but were fascinating in the year 2011. Those innovations were probably near impossible ideas back in 2001.
Now, five years down the road, VR is about to change the travel industry. Our idea wasn’t that bold and unrealistic after all. It was just an idea that was very much out of our comfort zone. Maybe we should start asking ourselves:
[callout class="user"]Is there really such thing as a “bold, but unrealistic idea” anymore? Are we encouraging ourselves and the people around us to hold back on our imagination instead of embracing it?[/callout]
The power of ideas and technology
With the help of technology, we can even dance with our younger selves now. We can perform with artists who have passed or print a 3D model with a pen. Apart from that, we’ll soon be able to book a holiday in space within the next decade, as NASA recently rolled out a prototype space habitat.
If I were to tell my late grandmother that we can send mail to each other in just a click nowadays, she would probably chuckle and say:
Sweetie, great imagination. Will you bring me that stamp, please?
The next time you have an idea, do voice it even if it sounds crazy. Some of the most mind-blowing technology and practices in the existence of humankind were once considered “bold, but unrealistic ideas” anyway.
[callout class="tip"]Change is constant, so should innovation be.[/callout]
P.S: Will someone please design a pair of glittery green sneakers that can be used to walk on clouds? I’ll be your first customer!