Then go and work for WalMart! Yep, Walmart Labs no less. Where you can fulfill your destiny:
@WalmartLabs is a place to become a leading change agent. Join us and change the way people shop 1,000,000,000 at a time.
OMG, I soooooo want to become a leading change agent! And what better thing to focus my time, energy and creativity on? Yessss! Helping people to buy more crap they don’t need from WalMart. In fact it would be helping WalMart to convince people using any legal means possible that they need to buy some more crap!
And of course there are many others doing the same thing. But these guys make it seem even more appealing:
Ideas aren’t precious; people are. Sure, we come up with plenty of our own ideas, but they are inspired by stories that customers tell us. We seek to perceive, not to be perceived. We leave no stone unturned in our search for customer truth and empathy.
Existing or potential customers contribute to every project we work on. They inspire us and tell us whether we’re on the right track.
OMG, OMG, OMG, I sooooo want to be one of the change agents, techies, designers, entrepreneurs, statisticians, researchers, and artists, all trying to discover the future of retail.
Is this for real? What are they spending all their time, creativity, dreams, ideas etc. trying to do? Yep, improve retailing. Improve on ways to sell crap to people who don’t need that crap at all!
And so you get all the usual BS statements like “Ideas aren’t precious; people are” – oh yeah? Are they social workers then? Looking after the elderly? Perhaps helping troubled youth? No.
I’m sorry but is this all the human race aspires to? To become a planet of people really really good at selling stuff to each other?
But they make it sound like they’re on some sort of holy quest. You know, something really important that’s bigger than themselves? I wonder if the owners of places like this cynically do this to get a hold of young clever people or if they really believe this nonsense themselves. Not sure.
You know what companies like this and so many more are trying to do? They’re trying to give us meaning in our lives. Because in the affluent West, that’s what we are currently craving.
Just having some old boring job that pays the bills is like sooo000 1960s. What people want, what they really really want (to quote the ultimately vacuous) is to feel they are making a difference, spending their life working on something important, something that is meaningful to them.
And as a big corporation you need to keep innovating to stay ahead of the pack. Otherwise some other big corporation might innovate a bit faster than you and quelle horreur, sell more crap than you do! Aaaaaaggghhhh!
So how to get people to really care about selling crap to people who don’t really want or need the said crap? Well firstly it seems to be important to call yourself a ‘lab’. Which sounds really interesting and exclusive. You know, only the best and brightest getting together to solve really important science related problems.
I wonder if the 20 somethings believe this hype? Do they really believe they’ll be part of a select group of people working on The Next Big Thing? And that this will make them all satisfied and happy with their lives?
Googling “Innovation Lab” brings up quite a few links. Take Harvard’s iLab, the line underneath the Google listing says this: “For students and entrepreneurs, the i-lab provides foundational learning as the educational entry point for exploring entrepreneurship and innovation.” So this innovation lab seems to be entirely about how to build a business. Did they not consider things like the Aids virus, cancer, the environment, energy or over population when they set up the lab? Or are those things just not as important as selling stuff to consumers? Actually they do do a bit of the good stuff too, but funny how all the focus is on making money!
Closer to home we have the ASB Innovation Lab. I initially thought this was like the others, so you know, that if you are a young caring person who wants to do great things, but feel retail isn’t really worthy of your talents, then you can apply it to banking! No longer do you need to sell worthless crap to people, you can sell desperately important financial products to people! Woo hoo! Finally you’ve found you’re calling. It’s helping a subsidiary of a very successful Aussie bank make even more money! Sheesh, where would you be if you hadn’t found this line of work?
But actually the ASB Innovation Lab doesn’t seem to be that at all (although they’ll have them somewhere on the planet, and if not, then I’ve just given some fat cats a great idea) what it is, is a place for the public to go and play with the next lot of banking devices that are coming out. Big touchscreens, the next wave of ATMs and so on. So it’s a step further really, it’s getting the public to give you free testing and feedback on the products your ‘innovators’ have come up with.
These labs are everywhere, even the Kosovars have one! Their one sounds a fair bit more genuine, they seem to want to address social issues even! Tongue in Cheek: Can you like find meaningful work helping people? Wow, who would have thought? I mean surely the best you can do with your life is sell shiny new products to people?
But seriously, why aren’t we encouraging young people to do something really worthwhile with their lives? You know, something outside of designing the next iPhone or coming up with a really really profitable mortgage structure that anyone can afford?
Because there is a lot of important work going on. Issues such as those I mentioned above like environment degradation, curing diseases that kill millions and the like. But it’s not always glamorous stuff. These things are not self funding and you often don’t get a lot of funding from governments easily. In fact governments probably prefer the business expanding kind of innovation labs because they’re are self funding and even better, the businesses in them will pay taxes if/when they make a profit, so no downside there!
So spending your life trying to solve some really important but seemingly intractable problem, all the while getting paid bugger all and working in a place that hasn’t had the decor upgraded in 50 years, with a high chance of failure, may not seem that appealing!
Especially since they probably don’t even have an “innovation lab!”