The Innovation Blog

Lin-sanity, Innovation and The Educated Gut

Posted by David Culton on March 7, 2012

Though I'm not a Knicks fan, I must admit that I've been caught up in "Lin-sanity": the meteoric (and still very early) rise of Jeremy Lin, an unheralded, journeyman bench player who several weeks ago was on the verge of another cut but has put together the most impressive start for a player's first 5 games in the past 40 years. Better than Bird, Jordan or Lebron. Who could have guessed?

Finding the stars in your portfolio of ideas is a little like finding an NBA player -- some are fast-tracked for stardom and shine (or don't), and it's the 'scouts' (product managers, marketers, R&D folks) job to sniff out the good and great ones. Some ideas are like Jeremy Lin was -- they have the potential, but fall through the cracks, maybe not even making it to the 'bench'. What if you could find those diamonds in the rough, just one or two, that reside in your organization? What value would that bring to your organization? To your customers?

So how do you do that? One way is to revisit your old ideas with new eyes, but lets stick with our athletic analogy for the moment. As in sports, the larger business world has a variety of metrics (definitive market potential, ROI after x years, etc.) that are used to pick the strong ideas. With breakthrough ideas -- ones that bring something truly new to the game -- these types of metrics are often what we call "imaginary numbers", because breakthrough innovation by definition means there is nothing to compare it to; it has no frame of reference. Then what do you rely on? To me there are two major tools: a process that nurtures rather than kills new ideas and something that we call The Educated Gut.

Criteria vs. Metrics
We once worked with a client who had historically required the Net Present Value of an idea immediately following ideation. Truly new ideas wither and die rather quickly in this environment. Instead, rate beginning ideas on a few (4-5) criteria, and use that in concert with an evaluation model that preserves what's good about an idea, while clearly identifying flaws (and they've all got them) in a way that encourages problem solving. We call this an Open-Minded Evaluation. Some of the criteria we find are the most powerful are:

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Topics: open-minded evaluation, David Culton, Educated Gut, Innovation criteria, new product development

Creative Problem Solving Lessons From "Old School"

Posted by Creative Realities on May 12, 2011

Flipping through the channels over the weekend, I came across one of my favorite movies of all time: Old School. Like the subject of this clever Onion article, I ended up neglecting my plans and re-watching this comedy classic in its entirety. I saw the movie from a whole new perspective, a business innovation perspective. The movie is fundamentally about a group of guys implementing a seemingly absurd idea that breaks the mold. They are creative problem solving geniuses.  Believe it or not, this comedy can teach us all a few things about business opportunities, innovation initiatives, and creative problem solving skills. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from this hilarious movie and the serious insights they contain.

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Topics: Chris Dolan, open-minded evaluation, Innovation, creative problem solving skills

Innovation. What drives you nuts about failure?

Posted by Creative Realities on April 20, 2011

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Topics: Jay Terwilliger, Innovative Culture, open-minded evaluation, Vijay Govindarajan, creative problem solving, breakthrough innovation, developmental thinking

S(OME) Ideas are Worth Sharing

Posted by Creative Realities on March 7, 2011

A couple years back, my friend Bobby had made the connection of using the “power” of mood rings to help the parents of children with [but not limited to] Autism by indicating the child’s mood before a tantrum occurs, when an extra cuddle may be needed, or when they were simply in a great mood. He shared this idea with his family and friends, including fellow entrepreneurs, who unanimously shot his idea down [a.k.a. Bazooka!]. They all told him that he wasn’t being PC, it would be scoffed at by parents and the medical community alike, the 70’s were over and he needed to move on- and so forth. Feeling foolish (and a bit dejected), Bobby abandoned the idea and shifted his focus to other happenings in life.

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Topics: open-minded evaluation, Amanda Hines, ban the bazooka, Innovation, creative problem solving