The best ideas aren't hidden in shadowy recesses. They're right in front of us, hidden in plain sight. Innovation seldom depends on discovering obscure or subtle elements but in seeing the obvious with fresh eyes. This is easier said than done because nothing is as hard to see as what's right before our eyes. We overlook what we take for granted. Billions of tea drinkers observed the force of steam escaping from water boiling in a kettle before James Watt realized that this vapour could be converted into energy (Richard Farson)
Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas - only I don't exactly know what they are! (Lewis Carroll)
In Sheepcote Street in the middle of Birmingham is an unusual Chinese artefacts shop. I am not sure how to define it really. There are items of clothing; there is furniture, décor, jewellery, tea, chests, doors. It is a quiet unassuming little shop that one stumbles across by chance. Sarah discovered it on her meanderings before I arrived; she said I would love it. And I do. I bought a red jacket for myself and a packet of puerh and rose tea.
I was faintly disappointed in the presentation of my parcel – the jacket was neatly folded and placed in a sliver plastic bag, with my packet of tea. The name of shop is Curzon’s, the packet advertises this and the various commodities that the shop sells.
With my fresh eyes, I saw how the little shop could reinvent itself. My little parcel could have been presented with love and care and a twist of creativity: the jacket wrapped in white tissue paper, tied with red raffia and a little red label announcing the shop’s name and website, along with a bold logo. The name needs some work. The shop itself needs some marketing and branding. Its physical position is not advantageous, so some creative thought is required. Its merchandise needs to be rearranged so as to create more impact.
The shop is run and owned by a delightful couple: he is an engineer who has worked in Beijing for many years, she is an oriental teacher. By his admission, the business could do with more customers.
I have fresh eyes and new ideas.