Category Archives: Innovation tips

Weekend innovation tip: Think BIG like a kid


I watched one of my favorite movies of all time last night, .

Here’s a perfect example of how thinking like a kid again opens all types of possibilities for creative output when navigating a world where most people are used to the same old ideas. If you’ve seen the movie watch it again, you’ll notice all sorts of things that are happening inside your company right now that if you brought in some fresh thinking it’ll alter they way you see things.


This scene is specially telling, instead of reading marketing reports the boss prefers to go watch people at toy stores. Bingo!


Don’t be afraid to !

Weekend innovation tip: Look for tipping points


Here’s a fascinating talk about our digital future by Carnegie Mellon University Professor Jesse Schnell who dives into a world of game development which will emerge from the popular "Facebook Games" era. Prof. Schnell sees a future where our behavior is determined by the same way outcomes in games are determined: by the number of points we get by doing a task.


This is very interesting and you should definitely watch the video, it’s well worth the 28 minutes!


As a fellow gamer, this doesn’t hit me as strange because games have built ‘addictive mechanisms’ that while annoying sometimes; you’re still playing another 2 hours. And now we have all these social games that are also moving into the mobile arena that will get us doing things to get more points while interacting with out environment. The fact is, games are addictive and companies like Zynga and Foursquare know this and are making great use of these mechanisms (I’ve stayed away from Farmville as I believe is a BIG waste of time but know people who are HOOKED on it like crack!).

What’s happening beneath these ‘trends’ is that industries are overlapping on one another and the tipping point was when Facebook opened it’s application platform to developers a few years back and then network effects took over that now almost half a billion are only a click away from becoming contributors to point gaining behavior.


Could we have predicted that social gaming would take off as it has? No. Could we have anticipated? Most likely.


We’re evolving!

Different domains are converging with one another and is shaping our behavior. Yesterday I posted my thoughts on the topic of evolution and I argue that . Change doesn’t come from doing the same thing over and over again, it comes from the convergence of different domains. It’s very hard to predict what might happen, but what we can do is try to anticipate these changes or if you’re brave enough, create the change you want to see in the world yourself.


So how do we look for turning points? Here’s how I go about it:


> Try to determine the underlying causes behind competition in different domains and think about how these might overlap.

> Look for any sudden successes or failures in the business world that people find hard to explain.

> Examine the greatest anxieties of those on the inside of any business or industry.

> Keep an eye out for any kind of shifts in tastes or values.


More importantly after you’ve thought about the things above, ask yourself ‘WHY’ 5 times for each! You don’t have to be a great forecaster (for all we know they don’t know either!), you just have to be aware that things evolve. How this happens and what the outcome will be is what we want to anticipate.

Weekend innovation tip: Outthink opponents like Peyton Manning

Ah yes, the Super Bowl is here and we have one of the greatest quarterbacks in the game playing in it: Peyton Manning.

He operates a no huddle offense that relies on reading the defense and making adjustments before the snap. This helps create confusion for the defense, so they don’t really know what’s coming at them. What makes all this possible is his great use of the , which stands for observe, orient, decide, and act.

This happens so fast, that opposing defenses have a hard time making a play on him. Because the ball leaves his hands so fast, that they’re left guessing where he might throw the ball. This enabled him to be sacked only 10 times this season!

What this means, is that he had more opportunities to throw the ball to his receivers for plays.

Weekend innovation tip: WTF is innovation to you?

Innovation is about change and progress not great ideas.


I get two responses to that question: dull faces or some lunchbox definition.

Businesses like the sound of the word of ‘innovation’ appearing in their vocabulary yet rarely can everyone in the organization come to a collective definition of what is means to them and this is a BIG problem. They’re chickens running around without a head because they don’t know where they’re headed and this is because they’re adopting someone else’s definition for themselves and fail to see that it doesn’t fit them.


There are but I will take a different approach and start with questions to help you construct your own definition of innovation instead. These questions will absolutely stretch your thinking around what’s important to you, your customers and the world which, and this my friends is what innovation is all about: change and progress.



  • What will we do differently of better than our competitors to achieve greater value for our customers and superior profits for our firm?

  • What’s missing in the world of our customers that we could create to make their life a lot more fun and easier?

  • What do we want to create?



Let me put it to you this way: if you’re not changing something then you are NOT doing innovation.


Does your definition of innovation answers these questions?

Weekend innovation tip: Be a kid again

Guess what? ‘innovation’ is going to be the keyword of the year again. More specifically how you reinvent your business from the inside out is what’s going to separate the leaders from the laggards and this doesn’t happen with some magic potion, it happens with questioning the assumptions by which your business operates.

According to new research one of the is ‘questioning’, as in questioning the status quo. If you plan to get your company on the fast track to innovation this year, then asking questions is the first place to start and such as why? why not? and what if?


Now that you get it, here’s an exercise for you to help you cultivate the habit of ‘questioning’:

  • Write 10 questions each day that challenge assumptions in your company or industry.


Yes, that’s it. Once you do this for a couple of weeks go back to your list and look for ways to reverse those assumptions or better yet, think how you can eliminate them from your thinking and come up with something new.


Understand: questions open the mind to new things, to more possibilities, to alternatives to new perspectives, they unbox your mind and take it back to childhood when anything was possible. The goal is to think like a kid again, without limits. Anything is possible.

Weekend innovation tip: Go lateral

What if your new product or service was like a cow? How would look like? How would it work? Why would people want to use it?  Why would they hire you? Would they tell their friends about it?…Get the picture?


Sometimes when we’re looking for inspiration but can’t find it we get stuck, a good strategy to get ‘unstuck’ is to start ‘whatifing’. Just like asking ‘why’ five times is a good way to get to an insight, asking ‘what if’ opens your mind to seeming unrelated things you might not thought of before. Inspiration comes instantly like a bolt of lightning!


It’s no surprise that some of the most crazy ideas come from asking ‘what if’ a whole bunch of times because it forces your mind to look at something from a completely different context than before.


Check out this clever book 100 Whats of Creativity, written by Don the Idea Guy. The will help spark your creativity and lead you to someplace you’ve never been before.