Tag Archives: evernote

Quick guide on how to use Evernote to stay on top of emerging trends

evernoteWhat is the process I use to keep up and /or uncover emerging trends and what tools do I use? Previously, I’ve written about how to create an insights bank using Evernote. Here I’ll expand on that initial idea, with a quick guide on how you can stay on top of emerging trends, as well as building your own sense making capability, to make sure you don’t get caught off guard.

Why do successful companies fail? Because they miss the future. But, companies don’t fail because they choose the wrong course, they fail because they can’t imagine a better one.

How does trend spotting fit into an organization’s future?

Innovators either create trends that change the world, or take advantage of emerging ones. Trend spotting is a very important innovation skill, and one that the vast majority of companies outsource to trend hunting firm; sometimes with no benefit.

This is a valid strategy, but a I’d recommend you don’t bet on it because most organizations have access to the same information those trend hunting firms are selling. More strategic for you is to develop your own capability for detecting and taking action on trends.

Detecting trends is a similar exercise to how you look for tension points to uncover opportunities for innovation; you attentively look for what at some point could become a huge problem.

When everything becomes a toaster less is more

Incremental innovation can have transformational effects, but we must also understand the limits of pursuing further efficiencies.

Yesterday, I came across a post on Gizmodo about everyday products that were improved to be perfect. Just look at them, I know you’ll want to have a few of them. Though none of them are Apple products, Apple is probably the one company that any of us can point to that makes us crave their products.


Any talk of recent breakthrough innovations usually start with the iPhone, iPod and iPad. Yet what many don’t know is that Apple invented neither of them. Rather they, with their own point of view, made them accessible.

There are many factors that go into innovation adoption, one of them is timing, the other is the one most don’t get right. Our adoption of Apple products had to do with more than one thing, but the fact that they’ve made our interaction with technology as simple and seamless as possible is a big one. Whether or not Apple understood this from the beginning, it’s no secret that people gravitate towards simplicity.

But most businesses and people go for its common enemy: simplistic.

Here are the main differences between the two:

What tools do I need to be an innovator?

What tools do I need to be an innovator?

This is going to surprise you, but you already have all the tools you need to be an innovator: your senses.

Simply put, opportunities are all around us. When we take the time to notice them, they can stimulate more creative thoughts within each of us. Contrary to popular belief, creative genius can be developed. But just like everything that is important, it takes work.

Studies have identified 5 core skills of successful innovators, these complementary skills form the Innovator’s DNA:

  • Associating. The ability to connect and combine ideas to form new ideas.
  • Questioning. The ability to probe and ask provocative questions that challenge the status-quo.
  • Observing. The ability to observe the world around you—including customers, products, services, technologies, and companies—and the observations help you gain insights into and ideas for new ways of doing things.
  • Networking. The ability to diversify your network to learn from others, not just hang out with people who are just like you.
  • Experimenting. The ability to try new experience and put ideas into action.

I would add visualization to that list too because you have to be able to communicate your ideas in the form of a sketch, drawing or anything that looks like a prototype. You don’t have to be an artist to be able to sketch ideas, you just have to be able to take what you see in your head and draw it with stick figures on a piece of paper.

This last point is very important because modern innovation methodologies require that anyone be able to understand context via observation and questions, identify insights, synthesize those insights into ideas in the form of a prototype.

For more specific tools that will help enhance the above abilities, here are a few that I use:

  • Mindmaps. I’m a self-c0nfessed mindmapper, and I’m still astounded at how little mindmaps are used. If you really want to develop your ability to be creative, to look at both the big picture and small, to think strategically; mindmaps will do you good. There are many mindmapping providers, I use Mindjet. But honestly all you need is a blank piece of paper, a pen or pencil, and you’re all set. If anything doing it in a piece of paper is more effective because it makes you put more effort into it. You can then use your smartphone’s camera to scan it, convert it into a photo, and share it with colleagues.
  • Journal / Recording tool. Beyond having something where you can write down thoughts and ideas, you want to have a “question bank” and an “idea bank“. Both will do wonders for your creativity and strategic thinking. Specifically, I use Evernote as my second brain because I can clip images, send photos that I take with my phone to my Evernote, record conversations and take notes.
  • Information consumption tool like Pulse / Zite / Flipboard / Feedly. You need a tool to consume information of news, blogs, articles, tweets, instagram shots, etc. A tablet with said applications makes it a powerhouse.
  • Twitter Lists. One feature that is still very much hidden from the Twitter experience is Lists. Which is sad because people are missing out on how to use Twitter’s  full capabilities. The ability to create lists to segment specific themes and people from Twitter’s main feed is very powerful because you it can help you separate the noise from what is valuable. On top of that, by segmenting you’ll be able to have a clearer picture of what is really going on in the world!
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How can we become better thinkers and decision makers?

question to innovate

This the sixteenth of a series of weekly posts where I will answer a few common questions about innovation. Please feel free to add your own response. Also, if you have any questions you think we should discuss, let me know.

“The better decision maker has at his/her disposal repertoires of possible actions; checklists of things to think about before he acts; and he has mechanisms in his mind to evoke these, and bring these to his conscious attention when the situations for decision arise.” – Herbert Simon, Nobel Laureate

There are plenty of ways to make better decisions. But what about when you are dealing with complexity (which we all do)? How can you see the essence of anything quickly?

Where do you keep your ideas?

In yesterday’s post I shared my process of how I come up with my best ideas. Today, continuing our series of posts in support of the World Creativity and Innovation Week, the next question has to do with storage.

If you’re like me, and is in brainstorm mode all the time, you have tools to store your ideas. And in the connected world we live in today, these tools are with us all the time.

How to turn Evernote into an Insight Bank


We need tools to manage our thoughts, data, information and knowledge to be able to find insights. A bit of structure and system could benefit you when seeking new ideas – and keeping track of them!

Having a Brain Bank is very useful. I have one on my Evernote. But ideas are a dime a dozen. What you need is an ‘Insight Bank’.

What’s an Insight Bank?

For practical purposes, I’ll tell you how I use Evernote to store insights.

Useful and valuable

An innovation happens when an idea is both useful and valuable to the customer.

One of the things that stuck with me from reading Braden Kelley’s book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire is something that is rarely mentioned when deciding on an idea to execute: the distinction between useful and valuable.

Usually we have products and services that are useful but not valuable. But then again what’s useful and valuable to you is not the same for me. For example, Evernote is both useful and valuable to me because I can write, save, edit, clip notes and access them from wherever I am. Evernote is a tool for the information obsessed like me. I’m on the fanatic end of their users where I can’t imagine going back to not using Evernote.

On the other hand, an opposite example is Facebook,while useful is not really valuable to me. I could care less if Facebook disappears tomorrow. But if Twitter disappeared tomorrow I would feel empty. Twitter is both useful and valuable to me for many reasons.

Like I said, this might not be the same for you.