If you haven’t heard of Caine’s Arcade yet, check out this 10-minute video on a 9-year-old boy and his cardboard arcade. In short, filmmaker Nirvan Mullick stopped into Caine’s dad’s auto parts store in Los Angeles to buy a door handle, spotted Caine’s cardboard arcade, and transformed that into a film that captured the nation’s attention and started an educational movement about creativity and play.
We have a few principles that guide our innovation efforts in our district. One of them is “It’s Nobody’s Job.” Another is “Explore the Adjacent Possible.” As I watched the update on Caine’s video, it struck me how much Nirvan’s actions give great example of these two principles.
It’s Nobody’s Job
We believe innovation starts when we take a closer look at all the things in our life and work that no one has responsibility for. Nirvan stopped at the auto parts store to buy a door handle. He spots the cardboard arcade, and unlike the hundreds of other people who just left the store, he goes over to explore. It’s not his job to do this. Matter of fact, he was Caine’s first customer ever. From there, he simply decides to try to help the kid out, and a few weeks later Caine’s Arcade has hundreds of visitors and the whole thing has started. It’s amazing how life changes when we get out of our boxes.
Explore the Adjacent Possible
Steven Johnson, in his book Where Good Ideas Come From, talks about how innovation flourishes when we make incremental changes to things that already exist, and keep piling on those incremental changes. Caine’s Arcade is a great example of this. When I saw the video last year, I thought that the day where hundreds of people visited Caine’s Arcade was a nice ending to the story. I figured that was it. But in coming back to this yesterday (check out the video below to see what’s gone on since that first day), I realized that that day was just the beginning. Nirvan and others kept building on that idea and have transformed that into the organization Imagination Foundation and the Global Cardboard Challenge, which is approaching its second annual event this October 5. From a few hundred people playing Caine’s Arcade, the idea has gone to a goal of 1 million kids worldwide playing and building with cardboard on the same day.
With a month to go, there’s still plenty of time to get involved in the upcoming Global Cardboard Challenge. Check out all the details on their site and be part of the movement! You could even host a challenge!