In my household, Sunday nights are sacred. The lights are dimmed and my husband and I (along with 10 million others) turn on Game of Thrones. This phenomenon has captivated audiences for many reasons. Most think of the breathtaking cinematography or creative costume design - but it's the characters' innovative thinking that inspires me - and teaches us how to apply the same strategies to our work. Here are innovation lessons we can all take from the Seven Kingdoms.
Know when to turn enemies into allies
Cersei and Euron. Daenerys and Tyrion. Jon Snow and the Wildlings. It's no small feat to work with a sworn enemy, and these leaders struggled to trust their new allies. But the show's best strategists understand that collaboration can be the key to gaining a competitive advantage.
In 1980, natural foods grocer John Mackey took a similar approach - partnering with a local rival, Clarksville Natural Grocery. He knew two alternative supermarkets couldn't survive in such close proximity, so they joined forces, and called their new store Whole Foods. Continued strategic mergers and acquisitions grew their successful expansion for years to come.
Innovative ideas can come from anywhere
Tyrion had every reason to fail at the Battle of Blackwater - he had never even swung a sword. Rather than trying to out-fight his enemies, he instead devised a plan to outwit them by sending a ship full of wildfire out to sea to destroy Stannis' troops. His lack of experience pushed him to think differently - and it worked in his army's favor.
Game of Thrones teaches us to be open to new thinking, no matter how unlikely the source. A president at Frito-Lay understood that potential, and sent his employees a video message empowering them to act like owners. This had a profound effect on factory janitor Richard Montanez, who saw an opportunity when an assembly line broke and left some Cheetos without their signature orange dust. His pitch became today's Flamin' Hot Cheetos, now one of Frito-Lay's top-sellers.
New problems need new solutions
Upon learning that her new adversary had three dragons, Cersei knew she couldn't rely on old war tactics. She had to think differently to succeed. The solution: develop an entirely new weapon, The Scorpion -specifically designed to take down such incredible beasts. (Was it it successful? Well that is up to the viewer to determine.)
The female creators of Bumble were also inspired by a new problem - creating a safer space for women to date online. In order to empower women to feel comfortable making the first move when using dating apps, Bumble built a platform where only women could send the initial message to new matches. It now ranks as one of the top-grossing lifestyle apps.
Innovation has no rules, but practicing open-mindedness makes us more inclined for creative problem solving. Want to think bigger? Go beyond the wall. Ready for new ideas? Discover new lands. Want an innovation to survive? Find your allies. And see if the fantasy world of Game of Thrones can help you find insight into the business you're building in this world.