Is Experience the Enemy of Innovation?
One of my former marketing professors at a large, local university recently asked me to help judge upper-level marketing presentations with other area marketing professionals. The small, group presentations were based on either a product introduction or a new marketing plan for a small business facing an issue.
Various groups treated us, “professionals,” to 10-minute presentations. After each, we evaluated them based on the project content as well as their presentation skills and visuals used (the students involved in the project for a local dog rescue brought two of the rescue’s clients—puppies—which I’m sure scored a few extra points!)
Each of us was given a blue ribbon to award to the group we felt simply did the best. The groups proudly displayed their ribbons at their table. There was definitely a sense of competition and pride in what they’d worked on, learned and presented.
In the question-and-answer time that followed, we sometimes brought up an issue. In a few cases, there would be a look of disappointment or embarrassment across the face of at least one of the students. Most of the time, however, either the students had anticipated that issue or obstacle and planned accordingly – or, if the problem was “new” to them, we saw the wheels turning. In one case, a student actually bring up the potential obstacle I’d suggested in their next presentation, along with a solution to it they had developed during the two minutes between presentations. That group earned my blue ribbon based on that.
I came away from this opportunity with two basic observations:
1) The energy. The students were excited about the projects they’d spent most of the semester working on. There was passion that came from the groups. It wasn’t an assignment to them anymore. They had poured their heart and soul into it, and I’m excited for the local businesses that will benefit from the work they did.