Monday, August 15, 2011


When I hear the word "innovation" on the job boards, I think of two things immediately:
  • The latest techie invention
  • The best way to answer an interview question
Now, I'm not saying to lie when asked an interview question. I'm saying that the interview question should be asked with the intent to find out how much innovation the applicant possesses. "Given the following scenario, what would be your first course of action?" is a great interview question exploring innovation.

The latest techie invention is probably what everyone thinks of--innovation brings to mind iPads, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. But innovation exists on every level. Given the fact that I have a shortcoming or opportunity here, how do I make the most of it?

Think of Starbucks.

I went into Starbucks over the weekend with my environmentally-conscious "personal" cup, and ordered a grande mocha. For those readers who don't know how a mocha is made--chocolate is layered into the bottom, and espresso and steamed milk are poured on top. The entire thing is stirred with a spoon, and, in some cases, topped with foam or whipped cream.

The barista making my mocha was stumped--the only spoon she had in her hand was the wide, flat one used for dishing out foam from steamed milk, and she had no idea how to mix the ingredients. I told her I'd take care of it, and did--I stirred it with the wooden sticks they keep at the napkin station. Such a simple move. She might have been new, I suppose, but she had never stirred coffee in a Starbucks cup, and might have fooled me and gain self-confidence if she had possessed innovation.

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