Look around you. How many of the things you see today have come from one of the world’s explorers?
From the simplest shirt pocket to the most sophisticated computers, has been the result of an explorer mindset – someone, who has pushed the boundaries to create something new and useful. And if you start to question why, you will begin to see a remarkable difference in the way things come to be – that failure is not an option when you set a goal that may seem impossible today but unlocks the potentials of the future.
Take, for example, world travel and globalization. That would not have been possible if not for Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan’s exploration mindset and their search for new sea routes and lands, without knowing what lay ahead of them.
The highly constrained and extreme situations that explorers face provide them with a productive ground for the birth of the most cutting-edge technologies. The innovations that happen then end up being widely applicable paving the path to something bigger, something greater – changing lives forever.
True innovators, like explorers, are groundbreakers. They go beyond the boundaries of everyday knowledge to discover new ways of doing things. Countless innovation such as the steam engine or something as recent as the iPod, have been triggered by the same kind of extreme constraints and challenges that real explorers face.
If you look at some of the fastest-growing companies today, you will see similarities in the way they have created disruption, each structuring their own unique ‘exploration practices’.
As an explorer, one envisions the goal they want to achieve, assumes it is possible, and then figures out how to get there. At Spoonshot, we look at innovation the same way. This means that everyone in the company follows this simple yet profound shift in thought from a “Can we do this?” to “How will we do this?”
And when you imbibe a mindset like that, you tend to invent the future. One of the best examples of creating your own future is Google’s ‘moonshot thinking.’
Astro Teller, director of Google X, explains, “Moonshot thinking is a seemingly impossible and yet impossibly important idea that, through science, technology and creativity, can be brought to reality.” It requires persistence and the belief that the goal can be accomplished. Once that belief is established, the technical skills and ingenuity are built to make it happen.
Google’s self-driving cars, one of the many ideas that seemed unachievable then, have now logged more than 500,000 miles on the road. The same strategy has worked well not only for Google X but also for other companies, such as Tesla that is working towards a better and efficient transportation system for the future with self-driving cars. Or Elon Musk’s Boring Company, which believes that digging holes beneath the surface will prevent traffic.
Take Amazon, for example, that plans on changing the future of delivery via drones. The delivery drones, which will be offered to consumers in about five years’ time, could transform Amazon’s already efficient delivery network. The company hopes to deploy a fleet of flying “octocopters” carrying products weighing less than five pounds to users within 30 minutes of an order being placed. Imagine ordering a television or your groceries online and having them delivered to you by an unmanned aircraft. Doesn’t it sound like science fiction?
Talking of drones, in China, the Southern China Aviation Industry Group has filed a patent for flying cars, imitating something similar to what we saw in the movie Back to the Future 2.
We, at Spoonshot, apply the same exploration mindset in our brand principles and product development. We take a deeper look at what innovation truly means. We understand that innovation in the food and beverage industry is not just driven by factors within that industry. But it is also driven by macro factors such as a growing population whose average lifespan has gone up, increasing daily calorie intakes along with mounting food waste, and a colossal investment in technology and new retail channels to meet consumers’ ever-changing expectations.
Today if you see, there is an increase in the usage of CBD (Cannabidiol) and it seems to be added in nearly everything — ice- creams, coffees, bath bombs, and even dog treats. But a little exploration will tell you that the rise of CBD is directly proportional to the rise of anxiety levels since the past five years.
Or take, for example, the renewed focus on “fresh produce” within retail stores today. The question we have to ask ourselves is- why is this news — again.
Since the past few years, there has been a paradigm shift in food culture toward a redefinition of quality as seen in ingredient trends (e.g., low-carb, low-calorie, fat-free), organic products, and the movement towards local food products, farm to table – the inclination towards “all things fresh”.
A closer look at the past will provide us the origin of the fresh movement. It was Alice Waters, restaurateur, and food activist, who was at the forefront of the now flourishing locally grown, organic food movement. Her restaurant Chez Panisse set the stage in the early 1970s for what is now the most dominant food trend of our era — the trend toward all things fresh, seasonal and local.
We believe that in understanding the past and factors that influence the present lay the answers for future trends. We must go beyond food trends and look at megatrends such as demographic changes, urbanization, climate change, and advances in technology, to name a few, to predict future food trends.
That is when true innovation will happen and that is when you set the trend. And to invest in innovation, you need ‘appetite for risk’, and have a child-like curiosity. That willingness to hunt, to play, to question, without fear, without bias, without ego. Always open, always experimenting, always learning. We look at the root cause, start at the very beginning, and build from first principles.
That’s ‘Spoonshot thinking’. We believe that the best way to predict the future is to invent it.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez
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I’m the CEO & Co-Founder at Spoonshot. Our platform leverages food science and AI to predict consumer needs, F&B trends, and innovation opportunities. We help CPG/FMCG and foodservice companies adopt a data-led, agile, and forward-looking approach to product and menu development.