Category Archives: Innovation tips

Weekend innovation tip: To think outside the box look in other boxes

Thinking outside the box

Solutions are everywhere and the best way to think outside the box is to look in other boxes.

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Your box limits your view

How many times have you meet someone that tries to solve problems using the same method over and over again to no avail? More than you can remember I assume.

This is even more apparent as we grow older, we keep doing what worked before believing that’s the only way it can be done. If it isn’t broke don’t fix it right? The problem with this is that when we’re looking for new ideas we won’t find them looking in the same places, we have to venture off an unknown path where the chances of finding something new are more higher.

Why is it so difficult to try something new?

Because , we become so fixed in a single view of the world that we filter out all information that conflicts with our beliefs and are unable to see another possible solution.

What we see is what we think

The box is our .

Beliefs, assumptions of how you think your world (box) works all lock you in to a box, limiting your view of going about solving problems. The problem with this is that all your solutions will always be the same, predictable and linear. More of the same!

Brain researcher Gerhard Roth of the University of Bremen in Germany in his 2007 book whose title translates as Personality, Decision, and Behavior writes:

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“The brain is always trying to automate things and to create habits, which it imbues with feelings of pleasure. Holding to the tried and true gives us a feeling of security, safety, and competence while at the same time reducing our fear of the future and of failure.”

Look in other boxes that is not your own.

To start finding new ideas we first have to become aware of the limitations of doing things the same way, we must become aware of our mental models and question our beliefs and assumption.

Also understand that innovations themselves are combination’s of what came before, rather than an original invention. It’s discovering things in other boxes and then combining them in a useful way that you get something new. Creativity really is all about discovery!

The fact is solutions are everywhere and the best way to think outside the box is to look in other boxes.

Key Takeaway: Develop a take from anywhere mindset. Borrow ideas from other fields, keep an open mind and cherry pick your way to a new solution.

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Weekend innovation tip: competitive advantage is temporary

the future is blurry

To stay relevant in a competitive world, we must act as though today’s advantage will be gone tomorrow.

Everybody wants to be the player that has it all figured out, the one that stays competitive in changing times, the one that stays ahead of the game and redefines the game for everyone else.

These players are rare!

Weekend innovation tip: Have a point of view about the future

How often do you either read or have an insightful conversation that makes you think and question your assumptions about the future? No often I’ll assume.

Why is this?

Because more people have a chance to express their ideas to the world but most of it is worthless blabber!

Don’t get me wrong, the fact millions of people can communicate their ideas through a blog, Twitter, Facebook and such is great for society. The problem is that there is a lot of repetition and old ideas get amplified.

The only thing different is the name of the person who said it and how the message was packaged.

Repeating the same stuff is easy because there’s no real thinking involved and blending in easier that standing out.

The fact is most people stand for nothing more than more of the same!

The quest of any innovator is to stand out from the crowd and the way to do that is to have your own point of view of the future. A unique of view of how things could be better or different (we definitely know the future is going to be different) is like a light in the fog, it points the way to a clear view.

Any individual who has a well developed point of view about an opportunity is like a beacon pointing to the sky that attracts people to his ideas.

To start building our point of view we can start by asking ourselves some questions about what might the future hold:

  • What is changing in the world?
  • What does it mean for others?
  • What does it mean for us?
  • What do we want to happen?
  • What opportunities do these changes make possible?
  • What do we have to do to play a role?
  • What new business concepts could exploit these changes?
  • What do we do next?

Innovation is what distinguishes between a leader and a follower. If you can’t create a sense of future, no one can follow you.

Don’t out compete your rivals, change the rules of the game

On his way to becoming the greatest military genius to set foot on Earth, Napoleon Bonaparte broke the rules on how military campaigns were waged. From a young age he was always overlooked, to get the respect of his peers he understood he had to fight differently. In doing so he went on to rewrite the rules of military history.

Just like Napoleon we too can learn to fight ‘differently’ than our opponents, because doing so is the only way you’ll ever stand out in a world full of ‘me too thinking’.

Here are a few ways that can help you to start thinking about how to change the game in your industry:

  • Do what others are unwilling to do. Established companies have a strong incentive to maintain the status quo, it’s to their advantage to keep doing ‘what’s working’. Don’t compete on their terms, do what they’re unwilling to do and define your own rules.
  • Look where your competition is not. Go out to the fringe, where’s things are changing. Stepping out of the mainstream is the only place where you’ll get unconventional insights. What’s happening in another part of the world that you could adopt and adapt in your environment?
  • Challenge industry orthodoxies. Time and again, the strategy innovations that radically change customer expectations, competitive rules and industry structures come from questioning beliefs that everyone else has taken for granted. What drives success in your industry? Could you imagine alternative ways of doing things?
  • Collaborate. Innovations that matter arise from cross-boundary perspectives.

Weekend innovation tip: what made you great in the past will not make you great in the future

Your business will fundamentally look different tomorrow than it does today. Don’t believe me? Look at the newspapers business, the digital music business, the airline business, the auto sales business, we can go on and on.

Your only option for survival is to innovate, to recreate yourself and your business.

The Hazing film But before you innovate you have to accept that what made you successful in the past, will not make you successful in the future.

You have to stop fighting the last war. Consciously wage war against the past and force yourself to react to the present moment.

Redemption: A Mile from Hell movie download Key takeaway:

Never take it for granted that your last successes will continue into the the future. Actually, your past successes are your biggest obstacle: every battle, every war, is different, and you cannot assume that what worked before will work today. You must cut yourself lose from the past and open your eyes to the present. 

Weekend innovation tip: Look beyond the ordinary


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True innovators are never bound by what is; instead they imagine what could be.

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UPDATE: Scientific American has just posted an article on how imagining an alternative future enhances your creative ability.

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