Posts Tagged ‘idea generation’

Want big ideas? Find your flow!

Posted on: November 6th, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Laura Duguid

How often have you heard someone say, “I’m not creative”? Worse yet, how many times have you thought that of yourself? Society has forever defined creativity as a natural gift primarily embodied by artistic types. But science suggests otherwise.

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has coined a state of being called “Flow” as an important contributor to creativity, and a state anyone can achieve. It is a form of intrinsic motivation to pursue an activity (doing something because you love it) where self-consciousness is lost, one surrenders completely to the moment, and time means nothing.1 Plainly, a Flow State is when you are so involved in an endeavor that you are thoroughly absorbed and focused, losing all track of time and mental preoccupations. It is important to note that Flow pursuits are not synonymous with all leisure activities. Flow inducing pursuits need to be challenging, goal oriented, providing of feedback, and enjoyable to YOU. Watching TV or visiting with a friend are leisure activities, while Flow ventures are:

·      Physical activities like sports, dance, martial arts, etc.

·      Playing music

·      Arts and crafts

·      Gardening

·      Cooking/baking

·      Writing

·      DIY projects

·      Scrapbooking

·      And so on…

So how does Flow trigger creative thinking? Neurobiology. When in a state of Flow, brainwaves slow down and allow the uncensored blending of unrelated thoughts, thereby giving our brains a subconscious, lateral thinking workout. Flow also triggers the production of large quantities of norepinephrine, dopamine, endorphins, anandamide, and serotonin — all pleasure-inducing, performance-enhancing chemicals with considerable impacts on creativity.2 What’s more, not only are you more creative during Flow, your creativity is heightened the day after being in a Flow state, according to research done by Professor Theresa Amiable of Harvard Business School.3

Here are three practical ways to use Flow as fuel towards big ideas:

Sow n’ Flow: Jot down a problem or challenge for which you need a solution, framed using an idea starter like, “in what ways might I/we…” or “what are all the ways I/we could…”. Then set it aside and don’t think about it. Now get into your Flow. When you are deep into your Flow state, solutions to the problem/challenge seed you planted earlier are likely to emerge. When they do, quickly capture them (e.g. write them down or dictate them) – no matter how absurd – then continue in your flow. DO NOT stop and think about the ideas that surface. When you’re finished with your Flow activity, revisit the thoughts you captured (within a day or two) and use them as inspiration to address your problem or challenge.

Flow Today, Go Tomorrow: Make the conscious decision to engage in a Flow activity one day or several consecutive days before a planned brainstorming session. There’s no need to think about the subject of the brainstorming while you’re “Flowing”. Rather, the purpose of achieving a Flow state in this application is to warm-up and prepare your mind for the forthcoming creative engagement.

Flow Frequently: Keep your creative thinking skills in tip-top shape by engaging in Flow activities often. By subconsciously igniting and exercising your creative thinking ability via Flow, you’re essentially practicing being creative. And, the more you practice, the better you get!

 

1PositivePsychologyProgram.com, December 16, 2016

2, 3PsychologyToday.com, February 25, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

Five Divergence Strategies for Breakthrough Ideation

Posted on: July 10th, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Laura Duguid, Qualitative Researcher, Innovation Specialist

Recently I was asked to help design a workshop for aspiring idea generation facilitators. My charge was to devise an overview of divergent thinking techniques for use as a reference tool when designing ideation sessions.

The challenge gave me pause. How would I distill my 25+ years of ideation session design experience into a two-night class? Well, by starting with divergence of course! So, I let my mind wander, allowing incubation and inspiration to collaborate in my subconscious and…voila! A solution emerged. The scores of divergent processes I’ve played with, employed, customized and created over the years seemingly stem from five basic creative thinking strategies:

Divergence2Free Association: A multi-purpose strategy useful for just about any ideation objective. It starts with posing a basic question, “What all comes to mind when you think of __________________,” then what the blank contains really gets creative juices flowing. Consider inserting rich language/descriptors, photography, art, music (actually play some!), texturally rich tactile items, scents, tastes/flavors, you name it! Ultimately, the group ends up with a wealth of divergent starting points to inspire new ideas. Popular free-association exercises include Creative Group Conversation, Mind Maps, and Lights Out.

Snowballing: This multi-purpose strategy encourages brainstorm participants to continually build on each other’s ideas again, and again, and again stimulating volume and therefore divergence. A technique called Brainwriting is one way to do it, but consider also things like teams filling-in two dozen empty blocks on a piece of easel paper or a relay race with prizes to generate the most ideas. Also, after any small group exercise, always group share and snowball further on the ideas.

Personification: Bringing to life a product, brand or service is a fantastic way to generate ideas for positioning, messaging, language, and descriptors. Portray your inanimate subject as super heroes; first, second, and/or third generation relatives; or famous people. For more tangible ideation objectives like new products, services, or line extensions, “person” work can also take the form of role playing (e.g. a target audience in various situations), and hypothetical product or services marriages and/or imagined offspring.

Force Fit: Taking what’s familiar and making it strange to get something new is a wonderfully radical way to get at new products, services, and line extension ideas. Popular force fit techniques include Random Word (pull a word at random from the dictionary and use it as a springboard to stimulate a new idea); Arthur Van Gundy’s Product Improvement Checklist (PICL); and Cross Categories.

Characterize & Change: Mostly applicable to product, service, and line extension work, simply characterize all the benefits or attributes of something and change one or more to get to new ideas. Or, use the more guided S.C.A.M.P.E.R. technique (take an existing idea/product/service and Substitute something, Change something, Maximize/Minimize something, Put it to other uses, Eliminate something, or Reverse it somehow). Another variation is the Negatives to Positives technique (list all the negatives of an idea/product/service then change them or replace them with something positive).

I encourage you to try a technique or two in your next brainstorming session, and experience first-hand the creative power of intentional divergence. Enjoy the ride!

The Digital Age Demands A Steady Ideation Regimen for CPG Companies

Posted on: March 10th, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Laura Duguid

Technology companies have set the bar high when it comes to expediency in new product innovation. What’s more, the products/services offered have contributed to a consumer mindset of instant gratification (in terms of shopping for and/or receipt of goods and services); and expectation for immediate and constant digital interaction with the companies from which they buy.

Interestingly, it is this perpetual customer-company communication nLDBlogPost1.ARTorm that is playing a notable role in new product demand within the CPG industry. As observed by Cisco Systems, Inc., “…the [CPG] shopper becomes a major driver of innovation through e-commerce, omnichannel retailing and mobile platforms. Based on the increasing demands of its end users, companies have found they must create new products, achieve faster time to market and lower operational costs to remain competitive”.1 Additionally, Cisco cites one in five consumers as saying they are always looking for new products, the implication being that innovative merchandise is a significant basis for growth.

To this end, ongoing, deliberate idea generation is of paramount importance. The benefits of creating ideas regularly – rather than once every few years – is threefold:

Assures relevant ideas are always in the pipeline: Today’s constant customer-company interaction provides opportunity for discovering a wealth of compelling consumer insights, with new and interesting points of view streaming in regularly. Routinely scheduled brainstorming sessions using newly discovered insights assures relevant ideas are always on-the-ready to test with consumers.

Allows for creative depth: Regularly scheduled ideation sessions focusing on a few insights at a time allows for richer creative exploration. The result is stronger, more compelling ideas for consumer consideration.

Encourages and maintains a large quantity of ideas: While you may only need one good idea, continually creating many is essential. Statistically of course, a larger number of ideas increases the odds of hitting on a winning idea. Equally important however is recognizing quantity as a divergence technique. When brainstorming, the obvious ideas come out first. By pushing for quantity, you break out-of-the-box and reach higher levels of innovation.

Maybe your pipeline is already packed. No matter. Run regular ideation sessions to assess, modify and build upon what you’ve got. Try looking at the ideas using new consumer insights or market findings as creative lenses. Create all the ways an idea might be changed or re-created to be relevant again, considering the new findings. Keep your company’s creative juices flowing and you’re sure to stay in step with your consumer and boost your bottom line.

 

1  Ó 2012 Cisco Systems, Inc. White Paper, Cisco Public Information