Idea Generation

    Innovation Strategy Power Tools

    innovationPowerToolsv1Challenge Mapping & IdeaKeg

    Do you want to cut through the clutter when it comes to innovation strategy?

    Are you sorting through plans for year-end strategy and ideation sessions? Are you at the very front end of innovation and not sure where to go, where to start?

    Are you asking questions like these (you should be!):

    • What projects might we get started before the end of the year?
    • What might be our innovation focus for 2017?
    • How might we leverage those research insights we’ve developed?
    • What trends and ideas outside our industry might we adapt to innovate?

    These questions can be tough to sort out.

    I’m suggesting here two bits of “sorting out” technology. Consider using two powerful innovation and strategy tools. They are both advanced practice leading to breakthrough thinking. Challenge Mapping is an analysis tool to explore situations. It creates a hierarchy of focused questions from highly conceptual to distinctly tactical. Make no mistake, creating a comprehensive challenge map is not trivial. It takes time, imaginative thought and expert faciltation. But it’s spade work you absolutely need to do. Once a challenge map is created, your choices become easier to converge upon. You’ll know what to do, where to go. If carefully done, there is no better tool for creating action plans, or platform questions for innovation.

    KILN’s IdeaKeg is a tool I’ve mentioned here before, but most of you have probably not heard of unless you’ve read the recently published book, “Trend Driven Innovation”. IdeaKeg is a process that leverages trends to lead teams towards braver, bolder, more imaginative questions. The process* is kinesthetic and uses carefully curated trend-objects — you “think-with-your-hands.” IdeaKeg encourages fresh new connections and it invokes intuition. Unilever, General Mills, Sargento, and Whirlpool use IdeaKeg. IdeaKeg is also useful in ideation itself, it’s a great stimulus tool. Doing Mash-Ups with creative consumers leads to interesting, and yes, out-of-the-box ideas.

    Using these two tools separately, or even better, together, might be the best innovation strategy decision you make this year.I’m in the business of teaching and facilitating these tools. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss how you might bring them into your organizations thinking process. I guarantee you’ll get good results.

    Stay Tuned: I’m putting together plans for a September public workshop where I’ll be teaching facilitators how to up their game. These two tools will feature prominently in the agenda.
    * The IdeaKeg process, fully implemented can be more than just a one meeting system. FuseTrail is KILN’s Front-End-Of-Innovation design that starts with exploring challenges and ends with story-based management pitches. If your organziation wants a complete template for it’s FEI process, KILN has one. 
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    The Risk of Not Innovating

    I recently was a guest blogger for Gibson Insurance and I wrote this piece about the risk of Not Innovating. I’ll make the point again here — with fewer words. For more detail, read my post over at Gibson. Risk Aversion is a Risk Itself Many leaders pull back on innovation programs because of expenses, and, fear of change. They settle for small changes and improvements and continue to look at innovation as if it’s extra work. They pay lip service to innovation and waste time doing culture assessments. They also spend precious time developing a precise process for innovation. Cultural awareness of the climate for innovation is a good thing, and a defined process is as well, but don’t




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    Dance Your Challenge

    Shake Your Booty The Creativity and Innovation point of this blog takes about three paragraphs to develop, so business readers, let me tell you a brief story to set it up. I was having dinner this week with Gary Schwartz, a fine actor and Improv person who was blowing through Chicago to promote his new children’s book, The King of Average.  Gary studied with a hero of mine, Viola Spolin (he’s the leading expert on her games and methods). As we talked about Improv and I heard some of his stories I was particularly impressed with one story having to do with “getting into the body” of a role. The Story: So Gary was playing the role of a Roman




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    Nine Ways to Play at Work

    Nine Ways to Play At Work (see list below) The idea that one should invoke a sense of play around challenges is not a new one. Tim Brown of IDEO did that great TED speech on play, and there have been several more TED play-centric talks (Stuart Brown, John Cohn, Sue Palmer) all variations on the theme. Sunni Brown’s talk on Doodling is a personal favorite because she gets specific about how one can begin to be more creatively playful with problem solving. An emerging trend in business is using improvisation games as the basis for team building and problem solving. The work of Del Close, who shaped the serious play of long form Improv and Viola Spolin, who invented




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    10 Essential Elements of an Innovation Mandate

    Getting a Mandate to Innovate is Key Larger companies typically have an innovation process in place. They don’t always work, but the majority of the Fortune 1000 has some kind of innovation process or system. There is an implied consent then, to innovate, at those organizations. There are people, budgets, expectations. At smaller companies, the Mis-Fortune 5000 as I sometimes jest, there is often not a process in place. In many of these still sizable firms innovation tends to be a reaction to an emergency, or a sporadic effort that takes a back seat to operations. They often default to incremental improvement of the product or service based on customer demands. A newly appointed Innovation VP or Director at a




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    Five Magic Imagination Guidelines

    Five Magic Imagination Guidelines You hear it so often that it becomes one of those things that you really don’t think about it. “Use your imagination” is the phrase or thought that I’m talking about. I believe that many of us actually fear our own imagination. That’s tragic, don’t be afraid. It occurs to me that most people have the desire, deep down, to use their imagination more — but have no idea how. Here’s how. First of all Access your imagination more often. Do it deliberately. If you ask your imagination for ideas or visions once a year it’s a bit like that faucet in the back of the house you never use. When you turn it on, it’s




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    Seven Essentials of an Effective Innovation Project Manager

    Outsourcing innovation project management might be the most strategic money you spend this year. It’s not a new idea but it’s one more companies should consider. It sure beats doing nothing. See my Seven Essentials for hiring below. But first: If you’ve not got an innovation plan in the process of being executed, right now, you are treading water and will eventually drown. So what’s stopping you from kicking off an innovation initiative? I often hear resources. What I hear from top management: “we don’t have the time or resources for innovation projects, we’ll start later this year.” I get it. How is it possible to do this separate thing that requires its own focus and resources while keeping the




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    Mash-Ups for Innovation, a How To Guide

    How to Do Mash-Ups for Innovation This is an article length, comprehensive post on Mash-Ups for Innovation. To say the least Mash-Ups hold great promise in helping people and organizations find useful and sometimes breakthrough innovations. This article will likely be part of a book on the front end of innovation that’s in development, stay tuned. Meanwhile I hope you find this guide useful. To digest this in bits, simply use the index to go to the section that interests you. There is value to reading these sections in order, but for those with an urgent need, you’ll find instructions for facilitation in the Continuum of Mash-Ups and How To sections below. Generally, if you’re looking for more breakthrough results




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    Innovation 2015 or Five Lame Excuses?

    Death or Kryptonite? I have a  vinyl record with one of those strategic skips that has it repeating — it drives me nuts — but I still play the record because I love the song so much. The song is Jimmy Olsen’s Blues by the Spin Doctors. It’s a hard rocker about the lament of Superman’s pal who has a crush on Superman’s gal. In the song Jimmy Olsen is competing with the man of steel for the affection of Miss Lois Lane. He’s got a secret weapon, a pocketful of Kryptonite. Innovation ca feel a lot like that — your competition is a big tough impossible-to-beat player like Superman. And no matter your size as an organization, you’d better be like




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    Want Innovation? Ask.

    Not everything about innovation is complicated. I recently gave a creative problem solving workshop to a group of scientists who all worked for the same outfit. It was a lively session. In addition to learning structured creative problem solving (Osborn-Parnes-Basadur framework) we did some short bits of ideation around new business concepts. This was more as a sampler than it was a real session. It wasn’t the goal of the session to reinvent their business, nonetheless, in a short time there were some relevant business growth ideas with potential on the table. An executive with the company remarked after the session that “nobody ever comes to me” with new business ideas. Talking more with this man a reason why emerged:




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