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Playground: How Business Innovation Really Works

Updated: Apr 28, 2022

By Lynn Hinderaker, innovation expert, partner in NEWbraska Ecosystem (

Standing on the playground watching my seven-year-old granddaughter interact with other kids from the neighborhood, I realized I was watching a powerful-but-playful metaphor for business innovation.


People don’t really have to know each other

in order to come up with new configurations, spontaneous project-games,

new ways to climb up and down and across a problem,

spanning customer quirks and a slippery, metallic range of solutions

quick ways to test an idea on top of a sandcastle,

hang onto a problem, swing with a problem,

grab onto a big idea before you fall,

climb a rocky wall of what-ifs, walls with colorful traction

slip and slide over a challenge and a choice,

new ways to understand the problem,

new ways to grip a solid possibility that looms 12 inches above your extended arms

new ways to build bonds with virtual strangers, happy to help

tag, you're it

Who's got the end user now?

Who's got the features, the problems, the technology?

Who's changing the rules?

jumping into the action with no clear agenda but to CONNECT and AUGMENT

chaos and community

newness and nowness

whatever is going on in the moment.

This way, that way,

worth a creative glance, a scenario

then whoosh.

There it is at the bottom which is actually the top

What's the downside? Is it steep? Does it go fast?

Spinning round and round, back and forth, down and up

Climb to the top of what could be.

Look at everything above and below.

Where's the value? The uniqueness?

Move quickly, then stop, review the lay of the land,

"Where are we now? Where have we been?

What's left for us to climb?

Is this slip-and-slide, rompin' stompin journey over?

Is it time to go home already?

This is the playground of innovation, of tribes flung together

by spirit and sweat, by nascent profits, emotional stories, then gone.

What’s left behind?

A discarded mission statement.

Old hat resistance. Baggage.

Fusionary experiences.

New heroes on a horse.

Memories of an unexpected birth.

One last slide.

Sand in your shoes.

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