Where do you find inspiration? In December, AARP posted a video interview with shoe designer Chris Donovan. After working as a telephone repairman for 25 years, Donovan quit his job to follow his dream: designing women’s shoes.
Donovan "derives his inspiration from Theology, current events and his life experiences as a technician also living and working in a fishing port," his website claims. He has even created shoes featuring sutures for seams and hip replacements for heels.
After retiring from the telephone business, Donovan spent two years in Italy at Polimoda Fashion Institute. "The teacher comes over and she's like 'that's awful. What are you doing?' She goes 'What were you?' and I go 'I was a technician, I was like a phone repair guy kind of guy.' And she goes, 'So you're crude. Do crude.' And it started clicking. All of a sudden my designs started changing, my ideas started changing, and all of a sudden they fell in love with my stuff," he explains.
Regardless of the industry, employers can encourage innovation in employees by challenging them to draw inspiration from the world around them and engage in activities that foster creativity. Many businesses, like 2015 BCA 10 honorees Corning Incorporated and GE's FirstBuild, are now implementing artists-in-residence programs to help employees think differently about their day to day work. Other businesses offer wall space for employees to doodle ideas whenever inspiration strikes. Some, like Griffin Technology, feature their own employee art gallery. Hallmark features Hallmarket, a showcase of over 100 employees’ personal artwork such as sculptures, jewelry, paintings, and textiles, all of which are created outside of the employees’ work at Hallmark.