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Live from FEI 2013: DeeDee Gordon on Imagining a Future You Can Act on Today

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How do we innovate for the future?

It is a driving question for many businesses, but many of them are looking into too short-term of a future.  DeeDee Gordon provided a case study with insights into how to innovate not just for tomorrow, but for the decades to come.

An Overview of How to Innovate for the Future

-Identify trends that will most significantly impact the business over the next 1-2 decades
-Immerse yourself in the lives of consumers who are living those trends
-Seek out and understand the evidence
-Ideate and co-create solutions
-Screen ideas based on a well-defined set of business criteria

Take a look at the issue of metromorphosis: the social and structural transformations in tomorrow's megacities, which raises several key questions:
-How do we improve the urban living experience?
-What are people's lives going to be like 15-20 years from now?
-How do we deal with the problems of living in a metropolis?
-How can we integrate the company's mission/objective with the trends/problems/aspects of metro living?
The Challenges of Tomorrow

In general, there are a number of challenges facing the metropolises of tomorrow:
-Urban Wellness -- how can city consumers seek a balance between an urban lifestyle and health and wellness?  Challenges include poor dietary habits (limited access to reasonably-priced food), sedentary lifestyles (you don't have to leave your apartment -- and it can be a real pain and/or unsafe to do so), confined spaces

-Pure Living -- how can city consumers live in a city that's free from pollution, trash, and contaminants?
-Aging Infrastructure -- what can we do about the aging water systems, building foundations, et cetera, and create a modern and updated city?
-Traffic and Congestion -- how can we reduce the wasted time, wasted fuel, and the high stress (and its deleterious effects on health)?
-Neighborhood Safety -- how can we minimize the crime and similar things prevent people from making the most of their cities?
-Overstimulation -- how do we keep people from being overwhelmed and ending up in choice paralysis and disconnection?
Building Solutions
Sterling Brands, working with Bayer, employed their Collaboratory at Sterling Brands.  Instead of using focus groups, they had very candid dialogues with people in the comfort of their own home.  Everyone involved is highly vetted before they can get involved in the study.  The aim is to create a two-way dialogue that allows the company and the consumers to have a meeting of the minds.
Afterward, Sterling hosted an ideation workshop with a client with sketch artists on site and explored a number of solutions.  One of the most notable was the "Refresher Box," an opportunity to get some personal space with some fresh air, perhaps a relaxing scent, and so on, which doubles as a potential branding/marketing opportunity.

What kinds of solutions can your company generate for the cities of the future?

Orin C. Davis is a positive psychology researcher and organizational consultant who focuses on enabling people to do and be their best.  His consulting work focuses on maximizing human capital and making workplaces great places to work, and his research focuses on self-actualization, flow, creativity, hypnosis, and mentoring. Dr. Davis is the principal investigator of the Quality of Life Laboratory and the Chief Science Officer of Self Spark. (@DrOrinDavis)

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