Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Simple exercises to kickstart innovation - non-conventional thinking.

> Creativity is thinking up new things and innovation is doing new things !

Yes, true, without creativity we cannot think of innovation. They are two faces of the same coin and go side by side. 

Conventional thinking looks at an existing product or process and for innovating, thinks of different ways of using it in different environments and by different people. Because we already know the product or service and are trying to be creative, it really does not open up lot of unthought and unimagined ways of doing using the product or service. 

Non-conventional thinking is a new way of imagining and innovating things and ideas. It is acting against the conventional ideas of thinking and acting. 

Stage I : Brainstorming with open-ended questions -  It starts by showing a product or service and asking the audience to come up with a minimum of 25 open-ended questions about it, probably through brainstorming. The reason for asking open-ended questions is to ensure they are not just yes or no questions, they involve some thinking of the other features / uses of product/service. Allow only the creative right hemisphere of the brain to propose open-ended questions and not to critique it. 

Stage II : Choosing the top 5 great ideas - involves allowing the rational left side of brain to be active and selecting the best five questions on the product/service that has some impact on 
  a. generating a new use 
  b. highlighting a new use for an existing feature  
  c. highlighting a new feature altogether which has been overlooked all this while
  d. serving a new customer segment 

Stage III : Test and fail Fast - Prototyping / testing the new idea / use / feature of the product / service as fast as possible as a workable product / idea. The main focus is on failing fast ! It helps to come up with the final workable product / service

Stage IV - Implement the idea - Taking care of the IP rights, release the product / service in limited geographies of the world, with proper marketing / publicity  efforts through media / social media / newsapers etc. 

An example is : innovating the use of a pencil ..

Some non-conventional thinking questions could be like this :

1.  Is the pencil really happy in doing ONLY the work assigned to it ? If yes, how can the experience be improved and if no, how can alternate uses of the pencil be thought of. 
2. Can we fill ink in the pencil to put to more use ?
3. Why should the pencil need to be sharpened all the time ?
4. Why cant we use the pencil as a bolt to strengthen constructions ?
5. why cant the pencil be fat instead of being thin ?
6. Why cant I use a piece of Carbon to write / draw, why to cover it with wood ?

These are some of the 25 brainstorming questions (stage I) which I can put up from which after allowing the left rational side of the brain to work, I can select the top 5 open-ended question that has the potential to generate new "INNOVATIVE" uses / features / customer segments for the product / service ..

Once I select the top 5 ideas, (stage II)  I need to prototype and fail fast (stage III) to come up with innovative product / service with mass use / appeal before finalising on the idea for mass production / customisation. (stage IV)

References : 
1. Baumgartner, Jeffrey, "A simple exercise in anti-conventional thinking",, 9 December, 2015.
2. Klapper, Brian, "Free Yourself From Conventional Thinking", Harvard Business Review, May 6, 2013.
3. Medina, Carmen, "The ten habits of non-conventional thinkers",, 9 December, 2015.

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