Browsing Posts in Identifying Innovations

A question I am frequently asked is “How do I create innovations in my business?”  To address this common question, I created the acronym IDEA, which describes a system for leveraging innovation in your business.  The first letter “I” represents “Identify All Innovations“.

The first step in leveraging innovation is to begin identifying creative ideas that can be developed into useful innovations.  If you don’t capture these creative ideas, there’s nothing to build upon.  Think of creative ideas as the “seeds” that, with proper attention and care, can grow into valuable business innovations.

Innovative ideas are often generated from problem solving exercises, brainstorming sessions and other activities.  These ideas must be captured and recorded for future evaluation or further brainstorming sessions.  Many businesses use these  ideas as “seeds” for future discussions.  For example, the initial idea may be a broad concept that needs to be refined into a product or service appropriate for the business.  Additional brainstorming on the broad idea may produce multiple approaches to implement the idea, thus “growing an innovation” from the idea seed.

Start finding those creative ideas today to begin identifying innovations that will grow your business.

Many factors can affect your ability to innovate and think creatively.  Location, noise/activity level and time of day all have an influence on your innovative thinking.  A recent article suggests that the image of a conventional light bulb (an incandescent bulb) improves a viewer’s insight and creative thinking.  Click here to read the full article in Fast Company.

The light bulb is used regularly as an indicator of creative ideas and innovations.  However, this article (and the related study) suggests that surrounding yourself with innovative objects or symbols – such as the conventional light bulb – improves creativity.  This study compared the performance of participants who viewed a conventional light bulb as compared to those who viewed an overhead fluorescent light.

The results of the study are based on the presence of the light bulb, not the actual light emitted by the bulb.  The bulb itself can be disconnected from an electrical socket and still have a positive influence on a person’s thinking ability.  The “power” of the conventional light bulb appears to be its symbolic value as an indicator of innovation and creative thinking.

What other symbols come to mind when you think of Innovation?

Innovations and creative ideas for your business can pop into your head at any time.  These spontaneous ideas can be valuable to your business and should be recorded for future thought.  But, you never know when the next random idea will “appear”.

If you want to regularly develop more creative ideas for your business, schedule a brainstorming session.  Before scheduling the brainstorming session, be sure you know the best environment for your creative thinking.  Pick a time, location and setting that supports you in developing innovative ideas – read my blog post on Finding Your Innovation Environment for more details.

There are many techniques for brainstorming new ideas.  One technique involves identifying an unmet need in your own company or in your market.  Brainstorm for solutions to satisfy that unmet need.  Your solutions may include new products, new services, or adding new features to existing products or services.  Record all ideas you generate during your brainstorming session (using pencil and paper, a computer, a smartphone, an audio recorder, etc.)  You don’t need to understand all the details necessary to implement the solutions – just get the ideas recorded and you can work out the details later.

I recently scheduled a brainstorming session for myself to identify a list of article topics related to business innovation.  My list contains article titles and topics, but not the details of each article.  My brainstorming session generated a list of 28 article titles/topics in a short period of time.  I will schedule several follow-up brainstorming sessions to fill in the details for each article in my list.

Please share information about your successful brainstorming sessions here.

Businesses use many techniques to develop innovations.  One approach to innovation development deals with problems experienced in your own business or in your industry.  Problems provide an opportunity for innovation by asking (and answering) five key questions:

  1. What Happened? Identify details regarding the specific problem and determine whether the problem is related to a client, a product, a service, your entire industry, or a problem with your internal business procedures.  Determine exactly what happened, such as dates, locations, people/businesses involved and other relevant details.  These details will be used later to help prevent future problems.
  2. Why Did it Happen? Determine why the problem occurred by evaluating when it happened and why the problem occurred at this time, but has not happened before.  Identify what details were different this time that may have caused the problem.  Determine continue reading…
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