On a recent Saturday night, our friends set up a Filipino Pop Up, a dining experience in their backyard. My wife and I were joined by 5 other couples. The backyard was decorated with a neon sign, Tiki torches, a dining tent, Filipino music, and beverages. Over the next 3 hours, we were treated to a five course Filipino meal. It was a delightful evening, with great company and memorable food.
Jeff and Diana, the hosts, talked about how grateful they were to have an outlet for their creativity. The Pop Up was an idea they’ve had for a while, and they were excited to share their vision with their friends. They hope to run the Pop Up again, changing the menu frequently, taking it on the road, and sharing with others.
Meanwhile, earlier that afternoon, I had worked at the Grant Park Summershade Festival. I occasionally volunteer for the Atlanta Beltline for festival and civic gatherings, like this festival. I enjoy talking to folks about the progress of the Beltline. People are excited to know when it will be coming to their neighborhood. They are excited about the progress it has brought to the eastside of Atlanta, and are anxious to see that progress spread to more and more neighborhoods.
Like the Pop Up, the Beltline is an outlet for creativity. It’s a way for people to engage with each other in new ways. Businesses and developers also innovate on the platform with new restaurants, and amazing new projects sprouting up (like the Old Fourth Ward Park above and Ponce City Market).
Both the Pop Up and the Beltline are examples of Innovation Platforms. I work for a technology company, and Innovation Platforms are normally discussed through the lens of business and social engagement like Facebook, Twitter, or iOS. But Innovation Platforms don’t have to be technology focused. They can be everywhere.
An Innovation Platform doesn’t have to be a website like Medium or Instagram. Or an ERP platform (like that offered by SAP — my employer). Any open mechanism that allows for creativity, sharing, and re-invention is an Innovation Platform.
Innovation Platforms can include festivals or urban renewal projects or Pop Ups. But also churches, Co-Working establishments, committees, political campaigns, etc. These platforms can be big and impact large areas, like metropolitan areas like Atlanta. Or they can be at the congregation level, the community level, or the block level.
However, these platforms cannot exist at the individual level. If ideas and creativity don’t go beyond one person’s head or are never read by others, then it’s not an innovation platform. If only Jeff or Diana tried their Filipino food, it’s not an Innovation Platform. But only when those ideas are shared, do they become a platform.
The challenge is to find that platform that works for you. Find that platform to share ideas, generate feedback, and to execute new ideas. It’s not about technology, it’s about finding a mechanism that brings people together that encourages feedback, and spurs innovation.