Innovation Lessons from an Easter Egg Hunt

Monday, 11 April 2011 09:45
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Lessons in Tech Scouting From an Easter Egg Hunt

Most companies systematically scout external technologies as an integral element in their innovation strategy. How effective is yours' at it?

Years ago, when my now teenage children were quite small, my wife and I would encourage them to participate in the Cincinnati Zoo's annual Easter Egg hunt.

These events are quite charming and often amusing (who doesn't love watching toddlers gather colorful eggs?), and the kids certainly enjoyed them. We can also use an Easter Egg Hunt as a metaphor for technology scouting and external innovation. Let's consider some of the lessons that it can teach us. The following points should be obvious without explanation. 
 
Decide if your goal is to accumulate the most eggs or to collect the most attractive ones.
 
Some eggs are more easily discovered than others...some may even require looking beyond the traditional boundaries.
 
While any child can search for eggs, some are better at finding hidden ones than others.
 
Some eggs are more fragile than others.
 
Hey, that's not an egg! (And that can be okay, sometimes).
 
There's only so many eggs that one child can carry without dropping and/or breaking some.
 
Eggs that aren't used for something reasonably quickly will spoil. I hope these thoughts offer some useful inspiration for your company's own technology scouting and external innovation efforts.

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