Saturday, April 12, 2008

31 flavors of Asgard

It's good to be back after a particularly long pause provided by many client trips around the country. (In truth, my travel isn't letting up anytime soon, as I am off to TRIZCon this weekend to deliver a paper before heading to NYC.)

So I find it fitting that a story I'd like to share with you is one not only of travel, but of perhaps what makes up part of the heart and soul of innovation. Over the last 4 years, Robert McDonald, with the help of about 5,000 Dutch school children have embarked to create "The world's largest recycled object" - a 15-meter replica of a Viking ship made entirely out of 15 million wooden popsicle sticks.

This week, the ship set sail on an ambitious journey from the Netherlands to Canary Wharf in London. Later, Robert hopes to sail the ship along the path of the ancient Vikings to North America, stopping at Iceland and Greenland along the way.

The challenges of collecting and reusing 15 million popsicle sticks (along with about a 1/2 ton of glue) are as formidable as forging Midgard out of the vast emptiness of Ginnungagap. Why do it, then?

Somewhere at the heart of the human experience is the need to create, conquer, and innovate. For Robert McDonald, his need was born out of personal tragedy, and emerged as a passion "to teach children that anything is possible".

Many great discoveries and breakthroughs are born of a greater passion, and a need to create a legacy or story that is enduring, and echoes in the hearts and minds of future generations. The value of the innovator's path is only partially realized at the end of the trail. The greater value is the willingness of the travellers (and those who follow them) to take the journey, and embrace all transformations the path bestows.

To sit idly by, is surely the short road to Ragnarok.

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