New & Improved Business Innovation
So now that you're done laughing at those foolish people who were wrong about new concepts, take a look at the following symbol and say what you see:
What do you see, a black dot? Good.
What else do you see? How about a very large period? What else can you think of? Here's some other things you might see:
Did you notice what just happened? Instead of accepting the first answer that came out, we went beyond it to come up with more ideas. This is the first principle of our process for being creative, be open to and create lots of ideas.
If you want to impress your friends, you can call this "divergent thinking". It's based on the way that your mind naturally works when you're being creative, and it is something that you can do intentionally when you need to create more options or ideas for a given situation.
Alex Osborn (the advertising guy, remember?) created the concept of brainstorming which is a way for a group come up with many, many ideas in a short period of time, and the same guidelines apply for working by yourself to come up with many new ideas. In his book, Applied Imagination, Osborn provides us with four guidelines for doing this:
By using these principles when we look for new ideas or options, you give yourself permission to come up with ideas you might not otherwise pay any attention to, but that actually make sense when you think about them, tame them down, or add something else to them.
Give it a try on a real problem and see if you can't come up with many ideas. Before you do though, tell yourself how many ideas you want to come up with, maybe 30 ideas if your problem is well defined or 100 ideas if you want some really bizarre ideas, and then don't stop until you come up with that number. Alex Osborn pointed out the value of creating many ideas by assigning a value of one cent to the first idea. If the next idea is worth twice the previous idea, (for example the second idea is worth two cents, the third idea is worth four cents, and so on), by the time you get to the 30th idea it is worth $5,368,704. The moral here is to stretch for one more idea, because it may be worth a lot!
Of course this isn't the only way to find ideas or options to solve problems or challenges, merely one way that has been proven to work. When you're working on trying to create ideas or options to help you solve a problem, feel free to add some other tricks, tools or techniques that you may have used in the past to help you.
The only thing that you can't change in this process is the concept of not giving up. When we're faced with a challenge or a particular problem, it's easy to say, "I can't do it," or "I don't know how to solve it," or it's impossible." Nothing is impossible, with the possible exception of skiing through a revolving door. So give yourself the chance to look for ideas before you judge them. You'll find that your ability to create solutions may surprise you. •
©2004 Jonathan Vehar. All rights reserved.
Jonathan Vehar is a Senior Partner at New & Improved, an organizational development firm focused on the people skills for innovation. More
188 Strategies to Catalyzing Innovation
Scar Tissue: Celebrating Failure
Turning Off Judgment to Turn On New Ideas!
Innovation Space Exploration
Diving Deeper into Innovation
How to Generate Better Ideas
How to Be Creative
The Value of Making Mistakes
Avoid Prematurely Killing the Next Big Idea
To Solve the Problem Ask the Right Question
Answers with the SCAMPER Method
Creating the Elevator Speech