Little Red Riding Could embraced her new project and started to make a to-do list. “Don’t worry”, she told the CEO, “I’ll take my idea all the way to market and never stop.” The young woman had good intentions, but soon after starting she picked up a popular magazine and saw an article with a title that seemed to be related to her project. She stuck a green Post-it® sticker to the title page so she could easily find it later, but then another article caught her eye; putting her to-do list aside, she sat down to read and didn’t finish until the journal’s pages were heavy with idea-laden Post-it® notes.
Suddenly, Little Red Riding Could remembered the task she had set out to do, but she was intrigued by something she had read, and she took a new direction. Instead of hurrying ahead with her plan, she decided to run a few errands around town to look for some materials she knew the company would not have at hand. Needing a jolt after all her activity, she stopped at a coffee shop, had a latte, and looked through her purchases. The lyrics of a song playing over the sound system provided a key to how her product might come together, and she hurried back to her workshop to construct a sample.
She took her work to one of her engineer friends. “Bob”, she said, “What if instead of designing the product like we planned, we tried something like this?” showing him the sample and describing its potential as he quickly did some sketches on notepaper.
By now, Little Red Riding Could was deep within the world of her own creativity, and unknowingly under the scrutiny of some hidden and very unfriendly eyes. As she left Bob’s office, the swish of someone behind her made her shiver a little. She was afraid she had strayed too far from her assignment and hurried away to get back on track.
She headed down the hall but was startled by an authoritative, gruff voice: “Where are you going with that sample?” It was a high level manager in the corporation. “I’m taking it to market,” she told him. “Our business is ill and this will help it get better.”
Well, the manager didn’t like the looks of the new idea. It looked different. It looked complicated. It didn’t look like anything they had done before. He didn’t want it to go any further, so he stalled for time. “Why don’t you put together a presentation to the department? I know everyone will want to hear about your new product idea. Let’s have the meeting tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.”
Feeling happy that the manager was supporting her product idea, Little Red Riding Could launched into preparing a compelling presentation. Meanwhile, the manager rushed back to his office and had his administrative assistant set up an 1 o'clock meeting to forewarn his own managers: “I don’t want to spend any money or time on this idea,” he told them.
When Little Red Riding Could showed up for the meeting with her data and her prototypes, the manager and his deputies were there. Their narrow eyes and suspicious demeanor made them all seem a little wolfish, not like the idea benefactor she had met in the hall the day earlier.
"I've called this group together to discuss your idea," said the manager, and opened the discussion up to the group.
"I don't think we will make enough money on this idea" said the financial manager. "My" said Red, "what a big profit you need!"
"I don't think we can advertise this idea," said the marketing manager. "My," said Red, "what a big audience you need!"
"I don't think we can make this idea work," said the research manager. "My," said Red, "what a big machine you need!"
They argued and protested against Red and her idea until they had gobbled up all of her confidence. The CEO, passing by the meeting room, noticed the loud protests coming through the closed door. She decided to intervene, and when she saw the manager and his cronies ganging up on Red's idea, she said "I have been watching you discourage new ideas for some time now, and I am not happy about it." She gave him the ax.
Little Red Riding Could went on to bring another product to market. The consumers were happy and the company regained its health. Feeling proud and yet lucky that she had skirted another potential disaster, Red told herself, "Never again will I stray from the path and go off on tangents to find new ideas...at least, not until next time."
© 2013 Paula Rosch, The Paula Rosch Group. All Rights Reserved.
Paula Rosch is a discovery-to-invention innovator with hands-on technology, marketing, and product development expertise. Paula is the inventor on nearly 100 patents, uncovering original insights about human behavior through her ScoutPathTM process and translating them into commercialized brands and products with great consumer appeal and staying power. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article by Paula Rosch originally appeared in Vincent & Associates, Ltd. newsletter Innovating Perspectives in July 2013. For other issues of our newsletter, please go to www.innovationsthatwork.com or call (415) 387-1270.