How do you innovate and affect the lives of millions of people? Great question.
Listen. Borrow. Experiment.
Such was the approach of Herbert Strauss in 1924. Strauss was the President of Macy’s and it was the roaring 20’s. Times were good. They had just expanded their anchor store to an entire city block, over one million square feet. Such growth meant a lot of hiring and the majority of these hires were immigrants from Europe.
Loving the sentiment of the Thanksgiving holiday, these newcomers had embraced their new home and wanted to show pride in their new heritage. They wanted a parade. Mr. Strauss was all ears. It turns out that Gimbels, a rival of sorts, was already hosting a parade in Philadelphia. Could Macy’s borrow that idea? Could Macy’s best that idea? Why not?
How about allowing the employees to march in the parade? Perhaps borrow some animals from the Central Park Zoo? In fact, what about welcoming Santa Claus at the end of the parade in Herald Square?
That first parade was attended by over 250,000 people that saw floats of Mother Goose and Little Red Riding Hood. Those employees? They dressed as clowns, cowboys and knights while bears, elephants and monkeys joined in the procession that included four marching bands.
Listen. Borrow. Experiment. Innovate.
Related: What It Means to Become Real Innovators