We’re asked all the time, “How do you come up with new ideas?” The truth is, there’s no one answer. We’ve asked our associates for their thoughts, and we’ll be sharing them over time. This response comes from NS Vice President of Strategy, Vikki Nowak.

Vikki Nowak

Vikki Nowak, VP of Strategy

With a BFA in Visual Design, I am inspired by creativity of artists like Romare Bearden, Alexander McQueen and Kara Walker. But as an innovator, I am motivated by unnecessary pain. When I was in the Peace Corps, I lived in Lesotho’s capital city, a population that had a different threshold for pain. They were patient and never complained. But I knew their lives could be better, having grown up in one of the most privileged countries in the world. There is so much unnecessary suffering in our world, there are literally nights when I just can’t sleep thinking of possible solutions.

The best example I can give is the Pack H2O water backpack we created in partnership with Greif Corporation. The burden of water transport can be huge for women and children in developing countries. The average person needs 8 to 15 liters of water per day; a family of six needs up to 90 liters daily. And in Africa, for example, women walk an average of 3.5 miles each day to get water. The water backpack is an excellent solution over open buckets or contaminated containers used to carry water.

The other example is a current project involving medication adherence. My grandmother inspired the idea. She was alone, and she had to take a lot of medications. She has the little box for a week’s worth of pills, but the older she got, the more she would spill or take incorrectly. That is such a bad situation, for a lot of reasons. People end up in hospitals because they’re not taking their meds, or they’re taking them incorrectly. We are working on a solution solved for a lot of unnecessary suffering but also better health outcomes.

Pack H2O

Pack H2O water backpack

Kent State’s design school taught me about beauty, aesthetics and balance. But it was my Pan-African studies professor, Chris Williams, from Sierra Leone, who suggested that I join Peace Corps. It was that two years that taught me that my design skills could solve bigger problems. Twenty-eight years later, innovation that eliminates unnecessary suffering is what continues to motivate me every day.

Contact Nottingham Spirk to discuss how your organization can take innovation to the next level.

About us: Nottingham Spirk is a business innovation and product design firm with an unrivaled record of delivering disruptive consumer goods, medical devices, and packaging design solutions to market. We collaborate with Fortune 1,000 companies, funded start-ups and non-profit organizations to discover, design and execute product programs and strategic business platforms that will wow customers, grow markets and generate new revenue streams. Learn more about what makes us different here.

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