Do we have what it takes to innovate the education system? S11 Ep21

It is always the start that requires the greatest effort. ~ J.C. Penney

fixing education

Many believe we are facing one of our largest and most important challenges – the education system. We are transitioning from an information and knowledge economy to that of the creative and innovation economy which requires a different skill set. Many are attacking the problem but is it enough?

Sir Ken Robinson's book, “Creative School” focuses on how to transform the nation’s troubled educational system.

Guest: Paul Zane Pilzer

Paul is an American economist, New York Times best-selling author, and social entrepreneur. He has written 11 books and is the founder of six companies, and has been profiled in more than 100 publications including on the front page of The Wall Street Journal.

His latest business is Zaniac – a place where kids K through 8 come to dig deeper in to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Some refer to it as Disneyland for geeks. The results for the kids who attend are impressive.

Contact Paul Zane Pilzer at his website.

Killer Question/Mind Hack

What are the unanticipated uses of my product??

Not all interesting discoveries have an obvious application. If you believe you have something, but you’re not sure what exactly it’s going to be good for, don’t give up.

Many innovations languished in labs for years until they were matched to a product. Such as:

  • Silly Putty was invented during WWII as a failed experiment when trying to find a replacement for rubber.
  • Teflon was invented in 1938, but it didn’t coat its first pan till 1954.
  • The Post-it note was built on the back of some not-very-good glue. Its inventor believed it might have value but it took him five years to get any support for the concept, or find a potentially profitable use for it.
  • HP had a breakthrough with a super-accurate thermometer that was created in the HP Labs. Despite its accuracy, there was no clear use for the device until it was used to measure fluctuations in ocean temperature. The resulting data is a key component in ongoing discoveries about the rising temperatures in the oceans.

If an idea is new, interesting, and has unique properties, you will find a use for it, along with customers who will want to buy the end product. Have patience; it can take a while before the customer need emerges.

So ask yourself …

  • Do you have customers who can benefit from the unanticipated uses of a product? How could you identify a potential group of such customers?
  • What’s the most unusual way you’ve ever seen your product utilized?
  • How could you encourage other users to find out about the unanticipated uses of your products or services?
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