The Power of a Field Trip

One way to inspire creativity and to motivate yourself or your team is to take a field trip. This will work if wherever you work for a nonprofit organization or a traditional office. Take a field trip. I’m going to tell you two stories to prove how beneficial field trips of any size can be. 

Small Field Trips

My team took a little field trip a couple of years ago. We rode around with some technicians in their trucks. We wanted to see how they were using our products. We created a way for them to look at trouble tickets on their mobile phones. The close button was located at the bottom of the ticket, beneath all the notes, and they had to scroll all the way down to get to it. We thought that it worked well since they could work on the ticket, look at the notes, and then close it. But it just wasn’t working for them for some reason…

We found out that the technicians would read the notes going down, work on the ticket, then go straight to the next one and do the same thing. At the end of the day, they would have to close the tickets. That meant right before they got to go home and relax with their families, they had to scroll, scroll, scroll, close ticket, scroll, scroll, scroll…. on and on. They’d only spend 5 minutes or so on each ticket, but multiply that times ten to twelve tickets per day over a hundred technicians. That’s real time! That’s not time that the company could get back. That’s time that we could give back to the employees so that they could get home quicker. That’s what a little field trip can do to inspire you. So we made a 30 second change and moved the button… giving our guys time with their friends and families.

Big Field Trips

The next story involves a little more impact. Doug Dietz designs MRI machines. Have you ever had an MRI? I tore my ACL and had to get one. They’re not fun. They are loud, smell sterile, and are covered in warning stickers. Not to mention, they look terrifying.Almost like you’re going into a barrel of a gun. It’s not a great experience. Doug designed an MRI machine and he wanted to watch it in action; to see if he could make any improvements. He was so excited. That is, until the first pediatric patient came. She walked down the hall crying. She wasn’t afraid of her diagnosis, but she was afraid of the machine.

She came into the room that was painted beige, on gray, on beige and covered in warning stickers. She saw a machine that had a huge hole in it and smelled the room’s sterile hospital smell and she lost it. Her parents lost it. Doug lost it. He left broken, but also inspired to fix this.

He brought in a team of children to help him get that creative spark. He turned a scary machine into something from a fairy tale.


Doug turned a machine that looks like this…


Into one that looks like this


Just a little bit of paint and some aromatherapy, and everything changed. Kids would walk down that hospital hall filled with bright, white walls and lights, into an adventure land. When they saw the machines, their fears would settle a little bit. Their parents also benefited. They would come in and smell that relaxing beach smell and smile.

Before that, their biggest fear was how to get their kid through the procedure. Now they were relieved to see that their kid wasn’t scared anymore. Children would see their parents smile and calm down even more. Prior to Doug’s changes, 80% of pediatric patients had to be sedated to go through an MRI. Now that number has dropped to less than 20%. That’s the impact you can get from a field trip.



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