It’s Blogapalooza season again!

If you recall Blogapalooza is a program we help coordinate through Max Utsler’s Innovation in Communications class at The University of Kansas. Blogapalooza provides an opportunity for Max’s students to have blog posts they write for class published on various blogs. Thanks to this semester’s participating blogs - Spiral16, The Pert Group, AlexanderG Public Relations, Bowden Communications, and BrandTwist.

This first Blogapalooza post is from University of Kansas grad student, Kellen Ashford. Kellen is a media research analyst with a media monitoring service, where he’s worked with clients in healthcare, IT, defense, and security industries. In today’s post, Kellen has another view of innovation from the Snowapalooza festival in Kansas recently! Here’s Kellen:

Beer Run Innovation by Kellen Ashford

Beer-InnovationTwo weeks ago, eastern Kansas was beset by large amounts of snow, and with it, the levels of public hysteria associated with intense weather in this region.After being snowed in on Thursday, I decided I needed to both dig my car out and stock my refrigerator with beer. But typically, I ran into two problems: I had no shovel to dig my car out and I had no car to make the beer run.

The second problem was a very easy fix.  I live in Lawrence, KS and everything is in walking distance from my apartment complex. But, said apartment complex also failed to have shovels ready for both their maintenance crews and residents.  I decided to kill two birds with one stone and walk to both the local Dillons grocery store and the neighborhood liquor store.

At Dillons, I acquired duct tape to fashion a broom and a dustpan into a shovel. Quite pleased with how this invention would work, I walked across the street to the liquor store and bought a six-pack of beer. The clerk was quite bored and was happy to see me. We had a good chat about the apartment complex, my car, and my snow removal innovation. He also mentioned to try a “pot or a pan” if my dustpan shovel didn’t work. “Point taken good sir,” I said while beginning my journey home.

The second the dustpan met the snow, it cracked. My heart sank. I stood up, dumbfounded and looked around distraught at my misfortune. At that instant, the words of the store clerk struck me, and I immediately thought about two cookie sheets I have. My uncle is a professional chef and had left me some quality bakeware when he moved. Most notably, I have two, heavy-duty cookie sheets.  I ran into my apartment, grabbed one, and started to shovel away. Success! In no more than 20 minutes, I had dug my car out and created a path to the car door. I was very pleased with this turn of events.

The Beer Run Innovation Lessons

The beer run innovation lessons of the story are quite simple.

First, you have to take chances in order to innovate. I took a chance with my dustpan-shovel invention and failed, but, I didn’t give up.  My second chance at innovation, the cookie sheet-turned-shovel, was much more successful.

The second point is inspiration can come from unlikely sources. If I didn’t have the conversation with my friendly liquor store clerk, I don’t know if I would have thought of those two cookie sheets. His “pot and pan” idea was the seed for the cookie sheet shovel design.

And for that, I am grateful.

Oh, and don’t worry. The noble dustpan is still in use. Nothing a little duct tape couldn’t fix. - Kellen Ashford


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