When people think of innovation, they often think about companies that are doing things in a fundamentally new way to the current status quo.
Often, these innovations need to be “better” (itself a tricky thing to define).
But not only a little bit better, but substantially better.
As Google famously says, they want to be 10x better than any previous solution.
So what do you do when you find an innovation which speeds up an existing process by 99.92%?
Especially when the long time of the previous process is what people actually value?
Then you end up with a new innovation like what Bryan Davis did when he found a way to create a rum with the flavor profile of a 20-year-barrel-aged rum, but in only 6 days.
Check out his TEDx talk video above on his unique challenges and his innovative solution to them.
Bryan is the Co-Founder of Lost Spirits distillery, which has a completely new approach to brewing high-end alcohol.
They use a number of chemical and physical techniques to accelerate the release of flavor compounds from the wood into the rum and whiskey they make. One process involves shining a very high energy light into the solution, which accelerates the reactions which would normally take years into a state where they only take days.
They have been awarded a patent for this revolutionary process, have 10% of the world’s distillers on their waiting list, and their technology is referred to as a time machine.
Creativity is a key driving force behind it. We try to be really creative in both the terms of the booze we are making and then also in terms of how we present it and ultimately how you experience it. – Bryan Davis
Another interesting thing about Bryan is that he is not a professional chemist or brewer.
He has a degree in Art.
And by his own accounts, he learns much of what he needs to solve his wicked problems by learning from Google.
But it is his entrepreneurial, inventive mind which allows him to approach an existing set of challenges (making alcohol has been around for thousands of years…), and providing a new way of approaching the status quo.
Much like a previous innovation in winemaking, it seems like the art form of brewing delicious alcohol is going through an innovative phase in the past couple of years.
In his TEDx video, you can also see his “figure it out as we go along” approach to problem-solving, which is something sorely lacking in most large corporations which attempt to control for every outcome and variable before ever attempting anything.
Sometimes, all you need to do in order to solve a fundamental problem is to realise that maybe the established way of doing things may no longer be the only way to do things.
And people approaching problems with an unbiased, clear mindset can often see opportunities and solutions which established players wouldn’t have been able to notice.
Sometimes, it takes a fresh pair of eyes to see the forest for the trees.
So the next time you have what looks like an insurmountable challenge, ask yourself this:
What would a complete outsider ask before trying to find a solution?
You might just find your own way to remove 99.92% of the challenge.
Latest posts by Nick Skillicorn (see all)
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- S3E47: Prof. Keith Sawyer – The Creative Classroom and improving learning outcomes - December 4, 2019
- 3 Dimensions of Innovation: the 23 Capabilities your company needs to succeed - November 28, 2019