1. Use the language “How to…”
Too often when assessing the potential of an idea, we phrase any issues/negatives/obstacles as insurmountable realities. “We can’t make money” is definitive. With new ideas though, the beauty is that nothing is definite. If you rephrase an issue beginning with the words “How to” you invite problem solving from the group. “How to make money” is an issue in need of brainstorming; it’s something that we can figure out how to do.
2. Do a mini brainstorm around each of the major issues.
Innovation is an iterative process. Don’t just come up with a list of beginning ideas and then throw them at your NPD funnel. Vet them, tweak them, develop them as often and as many times as possible before ever getting near a process with defined metrics. Brainstorming shouldn’t be just about coming up with ideas, searching for solutions should be half of the brainstorm. And, when evaluating your ideas, focus on only the major issues, the “show-stoppers”. This will help move your new ideas toward feasibility in an efficient and productive manner, and in way that protects the “newness” of your ideas. If you use this simple technique to brainstorm solutions to the major issues you’ll find that you not only get more ideas through to the later stages of development (when they really get tested) but they’ll all be stronger than you expected.
3. Be flexible, and realize that everything else is flexible too.
Don’t search for the perfect solution to the problem at first – just as with your ideation – get a broad list of solutions, any solutions at all. This will get things moving. Then think about how to make the offered solutions better fits, and change/combine/mold them, until you get to a place where everyone is comfortable. Then, rinse and repeat. And, don’t be afraid to change the idea too. New ideas are malleable things. You don’t just have to fit the solution to the idea; you can fit the idea to a solution.
- Clay Maxwell (@Bizinovationist)