Amping Ideas, Two EZ Innovation Tools

Guerilla Innovation Chapter Nine

You have to amp those ideas before you start marketing and selling. If you are in before-start-up mode, even more reason to AMP like mad. The refined or amped up idea might just get you to that elusive Point of Difference we talked about.

It’s not enough to have a great idea. I’m not making light of the effort one must make to get to a breakthrough idea, but if you’re an entrepreneur, really, a great idea is only what you need to get to the starting line. The early going in the business race is about “insanely great” ideas (thank you Steve Jobs). Good ideas are  normally “out of the medals” at the end of the day. Insanely great ideas get gold.

It’s pretty amazing that a lot of idea people think that an idea is enough. Have a great idea, now done, dusted. One of the things you have to accept as a reality, if you are an idea man or idea woman, is that ideas, almost always, need to be refined, improved, amped up, packaged, marketed, and, gulp, sold. This Guerilla Innovation post is about the amping up part. I’ll leave selling it to another post, but suffice to say, a necessary baby step to selling an idea is improving it.

There are some classic tools for idea improvement. I’m going to explain two you can use here. The simplest of which should be tried first. Here’s Amping Tool One, you ask yourself this question:

How might I improve this idea? Or, How might I make this idea more exciting?

Weirdly, even with great ideas, there is often an immediate answer. Or answers. So, ask the question and write down the answers in your Notebook. You might keep in mind as you answer who is the target audience for your idea. Then, rewrite or restate the idea. Sometimes the results of this simple tool are all you have to do before you go out and sell the idea (or start the business that sells the idea).

The next tool really deserves it’s own blog post, but I’ going to keep it very simple here. If you need more help with it, get in touch. Amping Tool Two is PPCO*. PPCO stands for: Positives, Potentials, Concerns, and Overcoming Concerns. What you do is start with the first P and list (without judgement), it’s easy enough to do positives. Potentials, that’s what the vision is if this idea works, so list those potentials, like “would improve our top line” or “our customers would buy hundreds”. Then, move on to Concerns, but in this list, start with the phrase, “How might we…and then the concern. So, “How might we…reduce the cost of this marketing program idea”. See, you’re teeing up the problem to be solved. Then, you take each concern and do a mini-brainstorm that Overcomes the concern (that’s the O). What happens when you use PPCO is you get improvement ideas that take your original idea to the next level. As in Amping Tool One, PPCO ends with a re-write or restate of the idea incorporating your new insights.

So, What do you see yourself doing now that you’ve amped your idea? Wasn’t amping worth the effort?

The next post in this online book will be about action planning. Getting the new business party started.

There are other idea amping tools, one of which is the Idea Evaluation Matrix. It’s in Jack’s Notebook if you want to learn that tool.

* PPCO was developed by Bill Shephard, Diane Foucar-Szocki & Roger Firestein, who were all associated with the creativity program at SUNY Buffalo. They were also colleagues of mine at the annual Creative Problem Solving Institute.


This post is the 9th chapter in an online innovation book tailored for small business with the working title of Guerilla Innovation. If you want to start at the beginning and read the entire book, start at the introduction, here. For the Chapter Ten, go here.

The pre-cursor book to this online book on small business innovation (aka Guerrilla Innovation) is Jack’s Notebook, a business novel about creative problem solving.  This is a great story that blends all the concepts of Guerrilla Innovation into one fast-paced, thriller type book. Yes, Jack does Notebooking and a form of Scaffolding as part of the story. Stories are a great way to integrate learning!

Posted in Books & Reviews, Creative Problem Solving (CPS), Creativity and Self-Expression, Entrepreneurial, Idea Generation, Innovation, Start-ups