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Innovation Is Dead, Long Live Innovation

The pursuit of innovation has become the Holy Grail, but how do you put something real and effective out into the world?


The pursuit of innovation has taken over pop culture as the Holy Grail every organization should strive for. From big tech, consumer electronics, and automotive, to fashion, and even food, everyone is gunning for innovation. Often perceived as "think tanking"—dreaming up solutions and ideating in multicolored Post-Its—innovation is a necessity to compete in the marketplace. The "soft innovation" and strategy process is the preliminary part of that, yes. But the hardest, most valuable, and elusive bit is the execution and integration with, often times archaic, systems.

Two years ago the inaugural No Right Brain Left Behind innovation challenge asked the creative industries to dream up solutions that could help the creativity crisis in the United States' education system. In seven days, the challenge yielded 300 concepts from some of the top creative companies in the nation.

However, when it came to integrating our solutions within the educational system, it soon become clear that we didn't have a clue what we were doing. We did not have the infrastructure, educator support, or resources to generate any measurable impact. Looking at the praise, engagement, and participation we received, the challenge was a huge success. When it came to making an impact on the ground, we failed.

SLÖJD is our latest addition to NRBLB programming, and is a focused exercise in "hard innovation" that tackles an epic problem. This past May, we invited nine designers to prototype a breakthrough product that would empower educators and enhance creative development in students. Sure there were some Post-Its on walls, but the main emphasis was to build, get student and educator feedback, and present to a panel of guest critics for feedback and next-step iteration.

The goal was to put something real and effective out into the world. Was it a finished product in six days? No. But we shipped, learned plenty along the way, and were fortunate enough to win the LA2050 grant, which gave us some seed funding to pilot the product at Locke High School in Los Angeles' Watts neighborhood.

The above video will give you a deeper look into our world and our process, and tell you what SLÖJD means. We welcome your feedback and ideas, and look forward to sharing what we learn as we move forward at Locke.

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