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Starting Point: Loving the Group “Ah-ha”

By: Karen A. Newman
Posted: May 1, 2008, from the May 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.
Back to the May issue.

The incandescent lightbulb has long been the symbol for a new idea, for invention and for innovation. We’ve all seen it happen—a person or team struggles to find a solution and, suddenly, a light comes on. And while we don’t actually see a glowing lightbulb floating in the air over our problem-solvers, the symbol aptly illustrates the point—at least it has until now. More than 100 years after the invention of the lightbulb, there are those who would do away with the treasured symbol, and they may have a point. Inventor and creativity guru Roger von Oech, author of A Whack on the Side of the Head and other books, announced the demise of the incandescent lighbulb as a symbol or a metaphor for creativity and innovation last year on his blog. He worried that the lightbulb was too old and would draw grief from environmentalists, so he asked visitors to his blog to send him their ideas for a new metaphor.

In the digital discussion that ensued, a wide range of symbols were eloquently proposed. As I watched the ideas roll in, I thought about innovation today. What we hear so often is that new ideas and new products are increasingly the work of teams and the sharing of ideas and technologies—in a word, collaboration. If collaboration is the new invention, perhaps the new symbol should suggest that aspect of innovation. At minimum, it is probably time to move away from the incandescent lightbulb.

Growth through the identification of synergies is the theme of our cover story, “Innovation Through Collaboration,” about the ideas that came together in the creation of the vitamin-infused Inside Out lipsticks and lipglosses from Tarte/BORBA, and a similar energy that turned into Enbrightenmint, a vitamin-rich, dual-sided lip gloss and tooth whitener, from Tarte and BriteSmile. GCI magazine assistant editor Leslie Benson talked to leaders from all three companies to discover the “ah-ha” moments behind those products.

Turning to hair care, we give the subject a lather, rinse and repeat in a two-story, in-depth look at the market and the ingredient stories that are keeping it growing. In “Hair Care: A Push/Pull Market,” Euromonitor writer Alexander Kirillov tells us that hair care is struggling against the challenges of market maturity. GCI magazine contributing editor Nancy Jeffries reports that active ingredients with marketing appeal have pushed the market forward. Read her feature, “Hair Care Ingredients Nourish and Support.” Getting marketing and R&D together is the way forward for many product categories.