SPAM and the Characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset

Yes, I am attempting to draw parallels between George Couros  The Innovators Mindset and a Midwest Icon…SPAM®.

This spring our district created a hashtag and started a summer book study on George’s book…the hashtag-well of course:  #SPAMTownEdChat. This past week one of the questions we all dove into was the following:

Question #5:  How Might You Create and Environment that Fosters Risk Taking?

The responses to that question really started to have me parallel some of the risk taking we see outside of education and  Georges’  the characteristics of an Innovator’s Mindset..

8 Characteristics of the Innovator's Mindset

Lets look briefly at SPAM®….for example did you know:

  • It was first made in 1937?
  • It helped support troops in WWII?
  • Now there are 15 different varieties?

How did I learn this?  Well SPAM®  has a brand new museum that I may visit…well often.  I walk in to that museum and see visitors-young and old, from near and far-participate in hands on activities like canning their own spam, looking up SPAM® recipes and emailing them to use at home, learning about the different markets SPAM® is popular in today and meet Hormel employees (aka SPAM®bassadors) who share the history of the company and their pride of the work that has been accomplished.

SPAM®   has figured it out.  They created an environment in which visitors (aka learners) can come into their museum with any level of background knowledge about their product and leave with new learning, application (and well maybe a souvenir or two).  They provide opportunities for learners to have hands on opportunities to learn and create a better understanding of their product.   The SPAM®bassadors share the stories of the companies and how it has thrived for over 75 years and continues to take risks and create new opportunities to enhance and reinvent themselves.  They network-the minute you walk in there are computers for you to research SPAM® products and recipes, their website offers more information that you can use from home and they have quite the Social Media following as well.

So my challenge moving forward-how can I help to support a learning environment like the SPAM® museum that is fun, engaging, and provides opportunities for both students, and teachers to take risks (while having a little fun and a lot of learning) along the way?

Step One:  Connecting with Others. 

I am looking forward to future #SpamTownEdchats in which I can continue to learn from other educators on how to put some of these great ideas into practice.  I am excited about attending #ISTE2016 and #NAESP where I get to meet some of my PLN in person and seek advice and ideas while gaining new knowledge together.  And one of my most exciting summer opportunities is have two of my favorite MN Principals Mark French and Brad Gustafson come to Austin to visit my school and offer additional insights from their amazing backgrounds and perspectives.

So…I think I did it.  I took a risk-I found a problem-I reflected on my current knowledge-and I am seeking out connected educators to gain new learning and continue to grow everyday.

Well thank you SPAM®  not only for your products, but for helping me see that innovation doesn’t have to be done in, around, or outside of box.  It can come in a can.

Keep Dreaming BIG for our LITTLEST Learners,




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