Innovation Inspiration #006—Go to the Fair

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I’m working on a 4-page document, that is essentially a summary of an 80-page document.

No small task, if you’re familiar with the old adage of “Sorry I didn’t have time to write a short letter”, but I’ve got the structure in place, a good part of the content written, and a thumbs-up (and some additional guidance) from the person I’m writing it for. (It’s now that you should refer to yesterday’s post on the importance of sharing incomplete work for some reinforcement.)

But this content can’t be bland—its pitch must be extraordinary, and I need some inspiration about what matters.

Pen & Paper
Not your typical fair-going equipment.

So I’m going to the fair.

A decidedly low-tech event when what I’m working on is so high-tech, but that’s the whole point. For this inspiration, I need to not be looking at technology, but at what matters to people.

So I’m going to see where the crowds are, what things attract the most people and get them the most excited. I don’t know exactly what I’ll find, just that I’ll find something valuable and insightful.

(It doesn’t hurt that the annual emergency preparedness day is co-located this year, and if you get there by 11, you get free parking and admission to the fair. So, yes, I’m going to get my geek on, too.)

If you do something like this that is normally fun, looking for inspiration, you must be careful to not get caught up in the fun.

So my plan is to use the trick I used to use in my magazine editor days. Whenever I was covering a show that we had a booth at, I’d go in a day early, to adjust to the time change, help with booth setup–and sneak around the floor making a list of the booths I needed to hit up first the next day. Today’s plan is to blow through it in about two hours, then go find a cubbyhole to put the inspiration to the page.

(If you don’t set this structure in place beforehand, you might as well not try something like this, lest you be distracted for the entire day.)

So if you see me at the fair today, do say hi, but don’t be offended if I seem to blow you off after a few minutes. I can have fun next weekend. Perhaps the reporters notebook in hand will give you a clue?

Author: Peter Sheerin

Peter Sheerin is best known for the decade he spent as the Technical Editor of CADENCE magazine, where he was the acknowledged expert in Computer-Aided Design hardware and software. He has a long-standing passion for improving usability of software, hardware, and everyday objects that is always interwoven in his articles. Peter is available for freelance technical writing and product reviews, and is exploring career opportunities in interaction design. His pet personal project is exploring the best ways to harmonize visual, tactile, and audible symbols for improving the effectiveness of alerting systems.

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