I’m sure that many of you receive funny or “send to ten people in the next ten minutes or suffer the consequences” emails and videos from friends almost every day. If you are like me, very few are ever sent on. However, the other day I received a Newsweek Article, “Avoid Death” is named wackiest Label¸ that gave me a chuckle until I really thought about it.

Caution in Innovention, Cautions of Procuct Development,The Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch conducted its annual “Wacky Warning Label Contest” and this year’s winning label, Avoid Death, was found on a small tractor. It was implying that if you simply operate this tractor, there is a chance of death. Second place was on an iron-on T shirt transfer warning, “Do not iron while wearing t-shirt.” The honorable mention went to a label on a letter opener stating “Caution, safety goggles recommended.” I began to wonder if the world had lost its common sense, or become lawsuit greedy.

What person in their right mind would try to iron a shirt while wearing it? Well, the manufacturer of these t-shirt transfers seemed to think someone might or has. While I am appalled to think that the management of this company has to protect the company from lawsuits when a foolish individual burns his/her chest, I realize that even the odd and ridiculous can lead to change that is innovative, creative, and possibly necessary.

You would think that this of type threat (consumer response) would hamper creativity and innovation, but on the other hand, (not giving stupidity credit) it may actually be a catalyst. Dr. Stowell and Stephanie Mead explain in their book, Ahead of the Curve, that by paying attention to the head winds (things that may hamper success) and the tail winds (things that will aid success), a person or company can more effectively strategize and then streamline processes to address or capitalize on the future events.

As team members, we must continually look for those things on the horizon that will change our current thinking, no matter how insignificant. Dr. Stowell and Ms. Mead calls this “gathering intelligence and analyzing forces.”TM

Who knows . . .perhaps, that one person who just might iron themselves, will bring about an innovative or creative product that will resist wrinkles, burns, or images that stick to a T- Shirts without heat.

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Martha Rice

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