This was the Start – June 2013 to June 2014
Chad McAllister, PhD and The Everyday Innovator™ Project
Concept: 1 RV + road trip for a year (phase 1) + interviewing innovators and business owners.
Objective: This project is about connecting with people who are The Everyday Innovator™s – business people, entrepreneurs, and wantrepreneurs – to learn how innovation really occurs. From small businesses to global operations, the stories of everyday innovators and their actions can help inspire the innovator in us.
Business Case: The justification is easy – I get to take my family for a year long RV trip to build experiences together and let my kids learn first-hand by visiting factories, historic sites, and other educational venues while I interview fascinating innovators along the way to gain insights into how businesses stand out from their competitors. What’s not to like! The results of the interviews and analysis are presented on this blog and will be the basis in the future for training courses – providing a means for me to recover the cost of the trip.
Development: Making the concept a reality was straight forward enough – convince my wife and kids the trip was a good idea (that’s a whole story in itself!), purchase a suitable RV for the trip, find great renters for our house, and set a departure date.
Background: I was a boy who loved to take apart things to see what was inside – what made something work. As my son enjoys doing the same, I now appreciate the anxiety this caused my poor mom! When I was 8 years old a neighbor, who was an electronics engineer, taught me to solder and helped me build a metal detector. It was cool! Building things, and at times finding ways to blow them up, was great fun. When college approached I chose electrical engineering – a reasonable fit for my interest. Engineering school teaches you how to analyze a problem and identify solutions. It is a very creative process. After graduating I joined a small systems engineering company – employee number 4 for the local office. In a small company you learn to do everything, wearing many different hats the same day and often at the same time. It was an excellent adventure. I created numerous new software products and worked with amazing people. I learned much of what I know about business from that experience. Since then I have worked with other small companies and very large multi-nationals, including being on the executive team of two technology startups. I completed a PhD in business along the way.
When I started my career, I naturally looked at the world through the lens of innovation – creating new products (physical goods or services). I thought this was what everyone did. It was actually not until much later that I learned some people are not involved in innovation – they are not constantly seeking how to create new value for customers. Wow, that was awkward. It also led to friction that took me a while to understand. Innovation, by its nature, has a way of bucking the system – new things are not created by doing the same things we have always done. Consequently, the change involved makes some people uncomfortable.
Today I provide innovation training with my Product Mastery Now group (www.productmasterynow.com). We are the only ones who provide training for the top-two international innovation certifications: the New Product Development Professional (NPDP) from the Product Development and Management Association and the Certified Innovation Leader (CIL) from the Association of International Product Marketers and Managers. This provides me the opportunity to work with many companies, often larger businesses, providing processes, tools, and frameworks for innovation.
Which brings me back to The Everyday Innovator™. As the Objective states above, this project is about connecting with people who are The Everyday Innovator™s – business people, entrepreneurs, and wantrepreneurs – to learn how innovation really occurs. From small businesses to global operations, the stories of everyday innovators and their actions can help inspire the innovator in us.
If you are reading this, I appreciate you taking the journey with me – learning everyday about product development, management, and innovation.