Approaching the wonderful time of Christmas and soon entering a brand-new year, we start feeling somewhat enchanted. You could say that we are surrounded by a sense of a magic...
As snow covers Copenhagen, the dark days make it feel as if the twinkling lights from the windows of people’s homes shine brighter, and it nourishes our tendency to cosy up at home with our loved ones. Inevitably, this is also the time when we start watching — or admittedly re-watching for the umptieth time — some good old classic movies.
Is it a wizard?
Here at IS IT A BIRD, some of us have been re-watching a favourite classic, or should we say classics: the Harry Potter series. Being the innovation geeks that we are, we could not help but notice how J.K. Rowling and her stories of a magical world are great sources of inspiration for what human-centric innovation truly is about. Let me explain.
See, J.K. Rowling has deigned this big world of mysterious objects, magical spells, and intriguing experiences. Have you ever noticed the talking murals on the wall of Hogwarts? Have you ever thought about how convenient it is to, with a cast of a spell, bring an object closer to you? Or what about creating a magical shield around your home as a high-tech security system keeping burglars away? And our all-time favourite: having a Memory Jar where you can unburden yourself by placing your thoughts and memories temporarily in a jar for later reflection and being able to see them from another point of view — what a relief that could bring!
Muggle magic in innovation
While these stories are fascinating and the proposed ‘solutions’ highly fictious – the most fascinating thing here is how, despite the unrealistic character of it all, people still find the stories to be highly relatable and impactful. The key reason for this is that Rowling based the Harry Potter inventions and how they function in their magical world on core human needs and desires.
We may dismiss the talking murals at first sight as being ‘crazy’ or ‘unrealistic’ yet look closer and you notice that the talking mural is reflecting a value proposition that is very real and based on human experiences. In our mundane (‘muggle’) world, every mural in an art gallery has a story behind it — often based on a certain age, situation, character, and context. We ask questions about the mural and sometimes even get to listen to its related stories as recordings on audio tours.
Or, take the Memory Jar – the basic human need of sometimes feeling mentally overwhelmed and overburdened and wanting nothing more than to just literally drag thoughts out of our heads and place them somewhere else for a while, until we are ready for reflection. That is really a core human need that we try to fulfil through different actions: talking to a friend, writing things downs in a diary or simply making a note on a post-it and place it on our bathroom mirror.
What if we could temporarily put our memories away only to revisit them at a later stage? What if murals could speak to us in art galleries telling us their stories themselves?
What if... we listen closely to human needs
What Rowling did was to simply take these basic human needs and turn them into really ambitious and big “what ifs…”: What if we could temporarily put our memories away only to revisit them at a later stage? What if murals could speak to us in art galleries telling us their stories themselves?
By being bold enough to ask such questions, Rowling opens up a whole new space of opportunities for innovation; spaces that others may not have been brave enough to enter!
We can all learn a lot from the fantastical solutions found in the young wizard’s world. Innovation can be as radical and crazy as it wants to be, as long as it takes its starting point in core human experiences, needs and dreams. When we start there, we can use them to speculate on futures that can address these needs and dreams in many different ways. Here at IS IT A BIRD, we have been exploring what it means to speculate on the future and how we can become even bolder and braver in asking the ‘what if’ questions that others think are too bold to ask.
When it comes to human-centric innovation, we think it is easier to start with magic and reverse the spell slightly, than giving up on magic all together.
Flying off into the new year
Now with Christmas almost here, we are inspired by the stories, movies and adventures that others tend to dismiss as crazy magic. In 2023 we want to bring this magic with us and remind each other and our clients of this magic. We want to continuously talk about humans, the people in our muggle world, understand their experiences, address their needs and grasp their dreams. This will continue to be our starting point for asking the most ambitious and magical questions when cracking the big challenges that we are facing globally.
Let’s be more like J.K. Rowling in envisioning how we can address challenges within climate change, diversity and inclusion, health care or the most vulnerable people in our society. When it comes to human-centric innovation, we think it is easier to start with magic and reverse the spell slightly, than giving up on magic all together.
From the IS IT A BIRD nest, we wish you a wonderful Christmas and a magical New Year!