Uncovering Cultural Nuances and Unexpected Innovations - Spring2 Innovation

Uncovering Cultural Nuances and Unexpected Innovations

June 5, 2023

by Nilufer Erdebil

Venturing into different countries never fails to captivate my soul. In these experiences both the subtle and striking disparities between nations are exciting to see. Such disparities may be hidden from casual observation, while others proudly proclaim their uniqueness to the discerning eye.

As I strolled through a small German town’s parking lot, my gaze was suddenly captured by a vehicle, unobtrusive yet markedly distinctive. Not only had I been captivated by this car’s allure, but a German couple visiting from a bustling city confessed their unfamiliarity with its model as well.

Although the car’s diminutive size might not have been an anomaly in Europe, what truly set it apart was the arrangement of its rear tires— situated closely together at the center back of the vehicle. In the space typically occupied by tires, an almost cover-like structure emerged. Upon closer inspection I discovered this was a Fiat – the Ellenator.

Upon returning to Canada, curiosity prompted me to delve deeper into the mysteries of this peculiar automobile. Surprisingly, I discovered that altering the car’s design to accommodate the close proximity of its rear tires actually incurred additional costs. Furthermore, this model had a considerably lower maximum speed and, arguably, a reduced stability compared to its counterparts with more conventional tire placements. Considered a three-wheel vehicle due to its tire configuration, it was intriguing to learn that such a distinction affected the minimum driving age requirements. In Germany, an individual can drive a car under supervision at the age of 17 and independently at 18. However, with this three-wheel wonder, one can commence their driving journey at the age of 16, provided they hold an A1 driving license (for light motorcycles and three-wheeled vehicles).

This wasn’t the only difference that astounded me during my stay. Stores in this German town closed their doors by 8 pm from Monday to Saturday and remained closed on Sundays. This practice shed light on an abundance of vending machines, showcasing an array of offerings that piqued my curiosity. These machines dispensed not only the conventional fare of snacks and beverages but also an eclectic assortment ranging from beer, wine, and cheese to soup, milk, and even wild deer meat. To my surprise, these vending machines were discreetly placed in unexpected locations. It was the milk vending machine that first caught my attention. Unlike their North American counterparts, which typically dispense milk in cartons, these German marvels permitted customers to purchase the exact amount they needed, provided they brought their own container.

Adjacent to the machine, one could purchase empty glass bottles with caps. Curiosity got the better of me, and I couldn’t resist the temptation to take part in this unique experience. Sipping fresh milk from a vending machine, especially with cows grazing in the field next to the machine made me feel even closer to nature. I stumbled upon yet another vending machine find—nestled on one of the main streets, offering not only beer and wine but also an assortment of cheeses. However, it was in the parking lot of a nearby hiking trail I was truly sold on vending machines where I discovered wild deer and pork sausage and salami. Succumbing to my intrigue, I sampled the wild deer salami and it was delicious!

Reflecting on my encounters abroad and the disparities witnessed, I wonder: what untold innovations have emerged on North American soil as a result of our distinctive policies and regulations? It is through such experiences and pondering that we cultivate a greater appetite for exploration and seeking the hidden treasures that lie just beyond our perception.

As our journey continues, let us embark on a quest to unravel the tapestry of our world, discovering the intricacies that distinguish one culture from another and unearthing the ingenious marvels born from the kaleidoscope of policy and regulation.

Ready to unlock the transformative power of design thinking? Spring2 Innovation invites you to embark on a journey of discovery and innovation. Join our immersive design thinking training programs and uncover the hidden treasures of problem-solving excellence. Expand your creative horizons and unleash your potential by starting your design thinking adventure today!


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