A Jigsaw Puzzle, a Napkin, and Practical Innovation

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A Jigsaw Puzzle, a Napkin, and Practical Innovation


By Mike Wong, VP, Business Development

Wednesday night, after surviving another 48-hour round of the Legal Week/Tech marathon, I walked into my house to find my three-year old daughter, as she normally is, perched in a chair working on our weekly jigsaw puzzle – this week, an increasingly complex 49 piece ordeal outfitted in all things Disney. I watched her stare intently at the picture on the puzzle box, slowly maneuvering the pieces to try and construct the (all to) familiar faces of Sofia, Amber, James, Clover and Whatnaught.*

After a few moments of puzzling, my daughter’s face twisted a bit, and I smiled as she looked up at me clearly frustrated, “Daddy, stop smiling, I’m disappointed (which is, unfortunately, the new word of the month).”  I watched as she went back to the puzzle and she, the superstar that she is, figured it out a few minutes later. In response to her celebration my son, of course, promptly dismantled it with the unique and careless efficacy that only a one year old can possess.

Through the tears that followed, I tried to explain that a) Langston didn’t know what he was doing (though I’m starting to sense this is no longer the case), and b) that I was smiling because the frustration she experienced with the puzzle reminded me of exactly what I used to feel while working as a project manager, and one that I look to solve for my clients at Neota – that frustration that there is a problem in front of me, I have all of the pieces, I’ve sketched out the visual on a napkin, whiteboard or Visio, but I have no idea how to make it happen on my own.

And while Grace ended up Neota’ing the puzzle together without help, I appreciate that it’s not so simple in the “real professional” world. Independent innovation tends to not progress beyond the hypothetical napkin sketch, and group innovation tends to be laborious, time consuming and inefficient. With that said, the conversations I’ve had over the last 48 hours while Legal Tech’ing have been truly exciting. Practical innovation, “let’s talk about how we actually get from A to B in a few hours,” at its finest. All I can say is let’s make it happen.

And, while I’m not a superstitious person, I’d like to take some credit for creating enough positive “sketch to reality” energy in the universe to persuade Satya Nadella to post, just yesterday, about disrupting the napkin with Microsoft’s newest product – which uses “AI” to automate code from wireframes – in other words taking the visual and creating the key to the wireframe puzzle. What timing, is all I could think when I saw the announcement yesterday morning while, for lack of a better word, absorbing my 4:30am cup of coffee.

This is exactly what we are excited about here at Neota Logic – providing our clients with the tools to take those process, knowledge, and expertise automation ideas, the back of the napkin sketches, the pieces to the jigsaw puzzle and transform them from hypothetical innovation, to practical application in minutes or hours, not months or years.


* Those of you that have young kids understand the particular Sofia the First nightmare in which I’m currently living, and those of you that don’t – I encourage you to look up, on literally any media platform, any of the 100 songs that I now know verbatim and to which I am greeted, on repeat, each and every morning. Let’s just say that my Spotify daily playlist has become a bizarre mix.



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