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Are You Top Gun When It Comes to Innovation?

I was recently turned onto a podcast called The Rewatchables, which features a round table discussion of movies the hosts can’t seem to stop watching. This show is insightful without being boring, and the cast is hilarious. Recently I listened to an episode where they broke down the 80s classic, “Top Gun.” Like most people, I believed that I already had a pretty good take on the movie. But the podcast made me look at “Top Gun” in an entirely new light.

In The Rewatchables, they analyze the movies by using a consistent series of prompts that guide the team as they explore ambiguous themes and topics. For example, when they looked at “Top Gun” the categories included, “Moments of Unintentional Comedy,” “What Aged the Best/Worst,” and “Apex Mountain” where they ask, “is this the actor’s best work … the peak of his or her career?”

It got me thinking about using a similar method for our industry. Granted, discussing the “Best Overacting” doesn’t necessarily translate to your business, unless you count employees “calling in sick” on a sunny Friday or Monday. But maybe we could use similar methods to deep dive into any problem, not just movies. For example, most companies probably have one product that got them to where they are today—their Apex Mountain. But will that same product remain the top seller? Or do they need to continually innovate and find the next pinnacle of success? Technical Glass Products does just that. We have an in-house design and engineering team that works with architects and designers to consistently push the boundaries of design; always moving towards our next Apex Mountain. For example, when TGP worked with the architects for the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing, we developed custom fire-rated aluminum capped frames—the Fireframes Aluminum Series. The frames allowed for large expanses of fire-rated glazing with sleek sightlines to visually complement the exterior non-fire-rated curtain wall designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Fire-rated systems that visually complement non-fire-rated systems was something new to the industry, and we got there by challenging the status quo and asking the right questions.

The Rewatchables’ practice of self-reflection and innovation can be expanded to include other prompts. For example, let’s look at “What hasn’t aged well?” In Top Gun, Maverick pursued a woman who spurned him into the ladies room of a bar. As discussed in the podcast, that wouldn’t fly today (pardon the pun) and wasn’t a good idea at any time. Following this line of thinking, are there practices you do in your company that you should revisit?

Another prompt the podcast asks is “Unanswerable Questions.” In The Rewatchables, a panel member posed the question, “Is there really any chemistry between Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis?” which led to a host of different theories. In our world, this type of open dialogue reminds you that there are no wrong answers—a vital bit of advice when brainstorming new ideas.

So if you feel the need, the need for speed … or increased efficiency, code compliancy or any other vital new offering from your company, try looking at things through an entirely new lens. Challenge yourself to ask different questions and watch what happens. And, if you want to see some other classic movies through a different lens, like “Dazed and Confused” and “Shawshank Redemption,” check out The Rewatchables podcast.


Dave Vermeuelen

David Vermeulen

David Vermeulen is the North America Sales Director at Technical Glass Products (TGP), a division of Allegion that supplies fire-rated glass and framing systems, and other specialty architectural glazing. Contact him at 800/426-0279.