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Have you ever read one of those thought experiments designed to illustrate the ability of the human mind? I’m referring to ones that state something like: Aoccdrnig to a rscheearcr at Cmagbride Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers of a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. (Hopefully you can read this.) This intriguing exercise came to mind while I recently attended a symposium on innovation, hosted by the Midwest chapter of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists (SCC).
As one might expect from an innovation-focused conference, plenty of interactive elements were used to engage attendees. In the Word Mash-up activity, attendees were assigned a random object and personal care product type and “mashed” them together to invent the next blockbuster. The idea was to brainstorm without limits, to foster innovation.
My team combined a watch with nail polish to imagine a nail lacquer that dried a certain color but utilized some sort of built-in mechanism to automatically change color at a given time or season; it could also turn clear to allow for easy application of the next coat over it. We also incorporated a tiny blower in the side of a watch to quickly dry the nail polish. While this exercise produced some far-fetched concepts, a few realistic ones also rose to the surface—which was obviously the point.
In many companies, thinking outside of the proverbial box is encouraged year-round; but in the last few months, innovation has notably been emphasized in event themes and even government agency efforts.1 This is partly due to a continued survival instinct in a tough economy, but we’re also turning the corner to a new, uncertain yet hopeful year.
Embracing this notion of re-invention, Cosmetics & Toiletries ® has re-assessed the content it produces and has major changes planned in 2011. Can’t wait till next year? As a sneak preview, our annual awards presented at In-Cosmetics have been repositioned to better represent our brand focus. The Cosmetics & Toiletries R&D Awards will honor one innovative raw material or development technology, and one finished cosmetic product or development technology for the craft of its formulation.