Giggles and pitter-patters of little feet aren’t what you’d expect to echo through the halls of an elderly care community. Then again, fragile, silver-haired men and women, many in wheelchairs, aren’t typical preschool teachers either. But, as depicted in a documentary film that went viral, these are familiar sights and sounds for a successful nursing home/childcare center in Seattle. On one hand, the program was designed to counterbalance the loneliness of life in a senior care facility. On the other, research suggests intergenerational interactions enhance children’s social and personal development. The program is so successful there is now a waiting list for children to get in, which leads us to ask: Why hasn’t anyone thought of this simple idea before?
It’s a touching story – and typical of those that creative strategy and innovation expert Gabor George Burt shares with his audiences to illustrate his highly sought-after perspective. “In a business environment without borders, continuous change is the new status quo,” he explains. “You are either actively shaping the future or you become its casualty. Therefore, the ability to systematically engage creative thinking to challenge perceived limitations and to drive strategy is of critical importance.”
Burt’s advisory work focuses on enabling leaders and organizations to re-imagine boundaries to achieve continuous success, growth and relevance. The combined nursing home and childcare facility is a perfect illustration, capturing the three core concepts of what Burt calls his “Slingshot Framework” in action:
- Turn pain points into points of infatuation– transformed isolated, marginalized elderly into valued companions and sources of wisdom for the very young
- Stretch the definition of your business to create new markets of relevance – turned a nursing home from a place of melancholy isolation to that of vibrant interaction
- Combine existing, seemingly incompatible components –brought together the very old and the very young, which previously everyone assumed were two separate, incompatible segments of society
This approach – widely embraced for its provocative, market-driving methodology – is the evolution of Burt’s work as one of the leading experts of Blue Ocean Strategy, considered the most influential business strategy of the new millennium (the book still tops Harvard Business Review Press’ best-seller list since its 2005 publication).
For additional reading, we recommend Burt’s just-published Harvard Business Review article, “What We Can Learn from One of the World’s Most-Mocked Cars,” which uses a colorful story to illustrate the basic need of businesses to address customer pain points.