“Anyone can cook” is the inspirational heart of the Pixar animated movie Ratatouille. It is a phrase that carries a rat from the sewers to the height of French cuisine. And so too, any water utility can innovate. Innovation is not the province of big cities like DC, Chicago, or Los Angeles. Even small, rural towns need fresh, new ideas to survive, and Master Meter believes in supporting them in their innovation journey through products, expertise, and inspiration.
In the movie, Remy, the rat, moves into the big city and unexpectedly turns into one of the greatest chefs in France. His journey starts in the countryside, where his family subsists primarily on trash, but Remy desires premium ingredients from the nearby home, which comes with huge risks. Maybe you’re like Remy, always wishing for something better but not able to attain it consistently. You might be reading AWWA Journal, Water Online, or attending conferences where you learn about utilities throwing tens and hundreds of million dollars at innovative projects.
Walk Before You Run
Our hero, Remy, seeks out Gusteau’s Restaurant in Paris, whose motto is “anyone can cook.” Even though Remy stumbles and falls at the beginning of his journey to be a chef, he perseveres by focusing on what he can accomplish and starting small. You will need similar ingredients (wink, wink). Like Remy, you will need passion to grow your desire for innovation into a reality, and just as he relies upon Linguine and Colette in Gusteau’s kitchen, you’ll need a team to help you implement your vision.
Remy doesn’t try to build his own restaurant right from the start, and neither should you with your innovation program. Remy starts small by improving the soup. Your soup could be as simple as changing one of those how-we’ve-always-done-it methods to something more efficient. Your goal in building an innovation program is to add value to the organization. Identify some low-hanging fruit and use these wins to generate forward momentum.
Keep Pushing Yourself and Team
Once Remy, Linguine, and Colette succeed with the soup, they move on to more dishes until they make Gusteau’s popular for the first time in years. The next obstacle in Remy’s way is the restaurant critic, Anton Ego, but Remy wins him over with his signature ratatouille dish. You will run into obstacles and skeptics on the way to creating a robust innovation program; however, your passion, team, and early successes will help you overcome the naysayers.
Maybe you didn’t think a rat could inspire you to innovate, but if “anyone can cook,” you can innovate. Here are some additional resources that inspired this article (besides the movie):