It is always a challenge to find relevant, refreshing content. Innovation is a topic that piques my interest – making unexpected connections between things. Listening and anticipating are key components for innovation. The content of today’s post falls under a new category I title whimsical innovation. A tale from Madrid.
Getting dog owners to responsibly clean up after their pets is a global problem. Most metropolitan areas now have scooper laws and impose hefty fines. Recently the mayor of Brunete, a middle-class suburb in Madrid, concerned about his country’s economic difficulties, came up with an innovative solution opposed to just levying fines.
In his first two years in office the mayor visited with over 200 constituents. The subject of irresponsible dog owners was a constant complaint. He solicited the help of an advertising agency that developed a “lost and found” campaign. In the spring they implemented a sting operation. Mayor Gutiérrez created a team of volunteers who patrolled Brunete’s city parks. Once they spotted a negligent dog owner, the volunteers would go up to the individual and engage in a flattering canine conversation. They obtained enough information that they cross referenced with the records in town hall where residents have their pets licensed. Then they mailed the dog poop (a.k.a. evidence) to dog owners in a white box. During the sting operation, an estimated 150 white boxes labeled “lost and found” were delivered and signed for by the unsuspecting owners. Embarrassing? Funny? Regardless, Mayor Gutiérrez recently reported to the 10,000 residents of Brunete an effective 70 percent reduction in canine poop. Dog owners are now spotted carrying plastic bags, which is an extremely rare sight in Spain. However, Mayor Gutiérrez is concerned that the good behavior might not last so he is working on a new campaign for 2014.
Here is the scoop! Innovation is about making unexpected connections between things; listening and anticipating are key components for innovation.