loren Eric Swanson: Innovations...so far

Monday, November 19, 2007

Innovations...so far

In the November 12, 2007 edition of Newsweek, there was a very interesting article entitled,

Google Goes Globe-Trotting; To train a new generation of leaders, the search giant sends young brainiacs on a worldwide mission. The story was about sending fourteen 20-somethings on a sixteen day worldwind tour of four cities around the world. "This sort of enterprise was exactly what Google was hoping for when it began the Associate Product Manaagers program five years ago. Earlier attempts to hire veterans from firms like Microsoft had awful results. "Google is so different that it was almost impossible to reprogram them into this culture," says CEO Eric Schmidt." One of their tasks was to shop and see what best innovative things they could buy for a set amount of money. The winners were awarded prizes.
This got me thinking about innovations as we arrived in China. The two things I have discovered are rather low-tech but clever ideas nonetheless. The first comes from McDonalds. Rather than putting drinks in those molded cardboard trays, which bend under the weight of a couple of drinks, the Chinese put softdrinks into narrow plastic bags so they always stay upright and are easy to carry.

The second innovation was something I saw last night when Andy, his friend and I went out for more wantons and then wandered across the street to watch the noodle maker. All the patrons of that restaurant were served with bowls that had plastic liners. This allows the restaurants to use the bowls over and over again without ever having to wash them. Admitedly this is a big gross and it sort of feels like "safe eating" but eating out of a bowl without a liner doesn't mean that the bowl is washed and sterilized between usings!
Another innovation--probably centuries old, are the thick quilts hanging at the entrance of the shopping center--to keep the warm in and the cold out. They would be slightly better if they were clear--like at the supermarket meat cooler because a lot of folks bump into each other but these quilt panels are as good as a revolving door.


At Wednesday, November 28, 2007 11:43:00 AM, Blogger djchuang said...

the plastic bag for drinks is a great idea! but, um, I think the bag works for holding drinks b/c China is more of a walking culture..

the thing about cardboard drink holders is that it is more eco-friendly, and it was maybe intended for design to sit on a car seat or car floor board, since America is more of a driving culture, but it doesn't work very well.


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