innovation

Five Simple Heuristics for Instant Innovation

I just returned from Saul Kaplan’s 9th Business Innovation Factory (BIF-9) Summit in Providence, Rhode Island — where, to my blissful surprise, I had just as much of a transformational experience as I had at Burning Man this year. I love it when so many conscious people gather together and indulge in the realm of possibilities and the certainty of optimism. 

Amidst the hundreds of insights that were shared, one of my favorites came from TED creator Richard Saul Wurman. He shared these 5 simple ways to catalyze idea generation, easily remembered by looking at his face (ANOSE):

Addition: Add something new to your process, product, project, or whatever it is you’re trying to create new value around. (I’ll call it the “entity” from now on.)

Need: Explore the needs of the people who engage with the entity now, or might encounter it in the future.

Opposites: Whatever it is you’re doing, try doing the opposite! He gave the example of peeling a banana. Even though humans tend to peel bananas from the stem part, did you know that monkeys do the exact opposite – and peel from the stumpy bottom part? Apparently it’s a much more efficient way to get to the fruit inside.

Subtraction: Take something away from your process, product, project, or whatever it is you’re trying to create new value around! Too much of a good thing can sometimes inhibit the creation of new value.

Epiphany: Sometimes you just have those explosive “a-HA!” moments — and you should pay attention to them! It was an epiphany that led to the branding of the iconic Trapper Keeper in the mid-80’s… over martinis. (Thanks to Siva Vaidhyanathan for raising my awareness about that story.)

This reminded me a little of TRIZ, but with fewer mental gymnastics required. And easier to remember if you’re stuck on a desert island (or in a conference room without coffee).

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