How Innovation is Like Foraging for Blackberries

I have just spent a lovely lunch hour foraging for blackberries in the hedgerows near our office. I gave foraging for blackberries a go for the first time yesterday, without much success – discussing it with my father, he suggested a place nearby which he saw bushes laden with fruit. As I was picking the blackberries today, it occurred to me what a good metaphor for innovation the whole experience was.

Look In the Right Place

You will get a lot more benefit, in a lot less time, by putting your effort into the right place. And someone else might know a good place to start looking.

Harvest At the Right Time

If you try and harvest too soon, it will be a lot of effort for not much benefit. If you harvest too late, it won’t last very long, and it might just make a big mess.


Accept There Will Be Problems

There will be downsides. You will get stung and needled. You will get your hands dirty. Try and minimise the downsides – but don’t let the worry about them stop you from trying.

Dirty Hands

Downsides Aren’t Always Immediately Apparent

I was stung on my arms by some pretty horrible nettles yesterday which still burn.

Learn From Experience

I avoided nettles at all cost today.

Effort Brings Engagement

You can buy rather than harvest, but you care less about the product.

Understand the Context

Engaging with the environment brings understanding of the context, the lifecycle, and helps you plan for the future (I will be back for currently unripe fruit in a few days).


There’s enough for everyone, if you just take what you need.


Protect Your Investment

I didn’t put a lid on my meagre spoils yesterday and spilled them all over my car seat.

…and finally…

Avoid Low-Hanging Fruit!


About Lilly Haines-Gadd

TRIZ facilitator, trainer, author and MD of Oxford Creativity - a TRIZ company based in Oxford, United Kingdom.
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