Curiosity drives innovation on Groundhog Day

Part of the innovation formula in Leading Innovation involves curiosity. We ask questions like, “what would happen if…?” and “what happened when I…?”

It’s Groundhog Day today, the day when Punxsutawney Phil emerges from whatever container he’s kept in and looks for his shadow. Legend has it, if he doesn’t see his shadow, spring is imminent; if he does, we’ll have 6 more weeks of winter.

Given the fun of Groundhog Day, and our shared interest in analytics and data, what would happen if we tried to assess how accurate Punxsutawney Phil actually was? How would we go about indulging our curiosity?

The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club keeps records of what Phil and his successors have seen. Since 1951, he has seen his shadow 53 times, and not seen his shadow 12 times.

Our next question is – how did winter actually go? While we can download daily historical weather data from the US Government since 1776, crunching that amount of data for a blog post might be a bit onerous. However, we can look at the average snowfalls for a nearby weather station to get a sense of how the winter went, since the National Weather Service computes winter snowfalls from July of one year to June of the next.

What would happen if we plotted the years Phil saw his shadow versus the amount of snow that season? After all, if the groundhog sees six more weeks of winter, it’s reasonable to assume that we’d see more snowfall, right?

Well… not so much. Above, the orange lines are when Phil didn’t see his shadow, meaning spring is right around the corner. There’s no obvious pattern which says Phil’s assumption of 6 more weeks of winter is a reliable predictor of snowfall, or spring’s imminent arrival indicates less snow. If we calculate the median snowfall for when Phil sees his shadow, it’s 81.2 inches, whereas the median for when he doesn’t is 76.2 inches. A difference, but hardly irrefutable proof.

Indulging our curiosity can be a powerful tool for discovery and innovation. If you’re not asking yourself questions like, “what would happen if…?”, you’re not giving your mind permission to innovate. Ask this question as often as your work permits. See what answers you can find. You may surprise yourself!


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Tinkering is innovation

Not everyone is a creative genius. Not everyone can pull a rabbit out of a hat, create something from nothing, dream up fantastical new inventions. Believe it or not, I’m in that boat, just like most of you. I am less inventor, more tinkerer.

Tinkerers are different to inventors. Tinkerers take things and, ideally, make them better. The tinkerer looks at a plethora of different ideas and disciplines and finds ways to bring them together. A tinkerer is an innovator.

Over the weekend, I built a new desk for myself out of PVC piping parts I had laying around and an old door.

new door desk.jpg

I saw instructions for the project on Instructables, then tinkered with the recipe until it worked for me. I reduced the height, changed the placement of the legs, and drilled cable holders and power straight into the door.

That’s innovation: I didn’t make anything from scratch. Instead, I took what I had and adapted it.

In my new book, Leading Innovation, we’ll discuss how you can build similar successes in your life. This isn’t about mimicking me — to quote Oscar Wilde, you should “be yourself, because everyone else is already taken.” That said, my goal is for you to learn to apply ideas I’ve discovered to your own skills and aptitudes, then take these into your organization.

Discover how to build on your strategic position and architect a plan to infuse innovative practices throughout your organization.

I’ve called my innovation path the Plus (+) Path. When you use it, when you find it in your own life, you’ll unearth a clear path to career and organizational success.

Leading Innovation will show you the path to building a scalable, innovative organization and a dynamic, successful career.

Buy your copy today!


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Video: How to Set Up Accelerated Mobile Pages Google Analytics Tracking

How_to_Set_Up_Accelerated_Mobile_Pages_Google_Analytics_Tracking_-_YouTube.jpg

Accelerated Mobile Pages promise to make our sites faster and cleaner on mobile devices. Until recently, we had no way of tracking our visitors to these mobile-specific pages. Google just published its AMP Analytics integration instructions, so if you’ve got a WordPress site, watch this video. You’ll transform your regular WordPress blog into an AMP-ready site, add AMP tracking to your Google Analytics account, and tell Google you’re ready for the revolution.

If you can’t see the video above, visit the video’s page on YouTube by clicking here.

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