With all of the new technologies and ways of doing things seemingly better and faster, do you ever wonder why we sometimes cling to the old ways of doing things? Why even if much better options are available, we still do things a certain way? Why do we hesitate to innovate?
Expand Your Time Horizon – Think Further Out
When we ran our first enterprise-wide innovation program, we were gathering all sorts of great ideas from our client employees, but there was something missing. After launching the program and running it for a while, it became pretty obvious that most of the ideas which were being generated were incremental features which were simply new add-ons to existing products – extensions which would make products better, improve the customer experience, make a little more money and refinements, so to speak. Thre was a category for out-of-the-box ideas, and mashups (where they would blend two or more ideas – see the idea blender) but we didn’t get a lot of really hugely disruptive breakthrough ideas. They didn’t think further out.
Repurposing: It’s Not Just For Trash, Anymore
One of the most effective exercises that we use in our innovation sessions is to actively take an object – any object – any object with a current purpose – and ideate around other purposes for that object, other situations that it could be used in.
To Innovate: Be A Kid Again
When it comes to new, innovative, out-of-the-box thinking, you can’t beat kids. I mean, not all kids, but those fearless try-anything-because-they-don’t-know not-to kinds of kids. I think you know the kinds of kids I’m thinking of:
Innovate By Triggering Simple Semantic Shifts
Disruptive new and innovative products need not be created through completely new thinking. In fact, completely new thinking can sometimes be difficult, requiring a completely different growth mindset, environment, and team. It’s something you may not have access to, or be able to whip up at a moments notice, when you need some innovation to occur, or a challenge to solve.
Let’s Make A Mess To Innovate
Recently, I read an article in the latest Wired magazine about tidying up – there is a Japanese author named Marie Kondo who wrote the bestselling “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” which, I hear, is still on bestselling books lists everywhere, it also seems to be in every airport bookstore I’ve been in lately. This and her other books discuss how your life will change if you would only just tidy up. I’m assuming that with this, and more and more shows like Hoarders, we are seeing a backlash against clutter. She is really against clutter, in fact, discusses in which order you should get rid of stuff (books first, then clothes, then papers, then sentimental objects) and you should only hold onto whatever “brings you joy”. Her method is to take everything in the house of that one type, say books, then pile them up in one place, then physically pick up each book and hold it in your hand. If it brings you joy in some way, when you see the book or hold the book, you should keep it, if not, get rid of it.
Do You Wonder, as You Wander?
It’s been proven that rigor and process kill innovation. In one study, they took two groups of college students and gave them a problem. But before they had a chance to solve the problem, they made one group walk in straight lines, up and down the room, back and forth, straight lines. Then they told them to solve the problem. The second group was told to wander aimlessly around the room, but specifically not go straight, go in curves, or whatever shapes they’d like. They were then told to sit down and solve the problem. Can you guess which group came up with the more creative solution?
To Innovate, You Must Do Something Different. It’s Harder Than It Sounds.
Just read (actually listened to) Smarter Faster Better, the latest book by Charles Duhigg, the author of the Power Of Habit (also another great book). Great book, highly recommended. In one of the chapters, he describes an interesting experiment.
People Hate Drag – How Do You Eliminate it?
Just got back from a quick trip to LA and I could not believe how bad the traffic is there. Whenever I needed to get somewhere quickly, people just seemed to be driving like complete imbeciles – straddling lanes, going slowly in the fast lane, dawdling here and there – it’s maddening at normal times, and even worse when you are trying to get somewhere quickly. I like to think of this as the concept of drag, which I define as the difference between a customer’s seamless ideal experience, and the experience they actually get. Some people call it friction.
Facing Your Killer: Make It Existential
One of the other exercises we use, which we find very rarely used in many companies who have been around for a long time – established, high or consistently profitable companies who don’t really need to worry about their customers or their product, imagines what, or who would be your killer.