Innovating in the UK



I was in London doing an innovation program for a client; but I actually want to share a little vignette on an innovative experience of my own that helped me to complete my work.  The fact that the need for the innovation was due to my own poor planning will not be the point I am emphasizing, but that once I stopped kicking myself in the behind for forgetting my USA/UK power plug adapter, I was able to find a way to get my work done and keep my clients served.

I had set the whole thing up a bit tight—Arriving at Heathrow early in the morning after flying through the night, I was to pick up my rental car and drive to the hotel, get set up, have a bit of lunch, and then four hours of conference calls—a coaching assignment that was prep for an leadership team offsite happening in Miami right after the London gig.  What was I thinking?

Well, if you know anything about London, you probably cringed when I mentioned the rental car.  Traffic, spaghetti roads randomly marked or not, muddled, jet-lagged head, no navigator….  Suffice it to say I was about an extra hour and a half behind schedule when I finally made it to my hotel in East London.  I needed to get my computer set up, and to do the calls via Skype (gods of good connections, smile upon me) because I couldn’t receive calls in my room.

As I was setting up, I noticed that I didn’t have the plug adapter for my computer.  “Front desk.”  “Well, we usually have one, but whomever used it last did not bring it back.”  Ahhh.  “Well I have enough battery to get through the first call,”  I thought as I turned down the screen brightness.  Dial in…  Sound quality good…  Away we go.

The first call went well, but I watched with dismay as the power percentage number spiraled toward disconnectivity.  I only had a half hour between calls, and a trip to the front desk revealed that the nearest store was in Canary Wharf: too far.  I figured I would Skype as much of the next call as I could and then bite the bullet and pay the dollar a minute roam charge, or what ever it was, and use my cell phone for the rest. 

Preparing for the next call, as my power meter went into the teens on percentage, I was looking at the tea warmer on my desk, a gadget with a base that a small pot sat on to warm tea in the room.  Curious, I pulled the pot off, and saw that it sort of plugged into the base and there was a little three-hole receptacle there.  Hmmm.  Check the computer power cord.  Yeah, dual voltage.  What do I have in my briefcase?  This paper clip aught to do.  Break it in half, and make a little loop through the hole in the plug; straighten it out a bit.  OK.  Need to make a connection, but I can’t control… oh well, just jam it in there.  Polarity’s not a big deal, right?

I can’t tell you the feeling of satisfaction when the little orange charging light came on! 


—Paul Kwiecinski—