Discovering Innovative Ideas

Do you ever struggle with a business problem that requires creativity? If you’re like many people, you sit at your desk and get to work on the problem. You may twirl pencils, crumple up pieces of paper, gaze out the window, and take occasional breaks to pace or get another cup of coffee. But, do you find that the ideas are not materializing?

Some creative people can generate ideas anytime anywhere. But most of us have certain activities that get our creative juices flowing. If you want to perform at your creative peak, you need to identify these activities and use them to your advantage.

Sleeping and Waking

For some reason, sleep seems to bring out the creative ideas in many people. Maybe it has something to do with Continue reading

Boost Your Creativity with an Idea File

If you want to harness the power of your inner creativity to do great things in your business, start an idea file. An idea file is a list of ideas that you can draw on anytime you need one. Think of it as your “backburner.” One of my clients refers to it as an “Innovation Parking Lot” – a place where they collect innovative ideas for future inspiration.

Why You Should Keep an Idea File

The main reason it’s important to have an idea file is that it provides ideas when you need them, but there are other benefits as well. An idea file helps you organize your creative thoughts. With several ideas written down and ready to go, you can choose the idea you feel most inspired to run with at the moment.

An idea file also allows you to capture ideas whenever inspiration hits. You can jot down the idea no matter where you are Continue reading

Where Does Creativity Come From?

For centuries, artists and poets have talked about “the muse.” The muse is the source of inspiration. It has often been seen as some kind of dark supernatural force, but actually it can be anyone around you or something as simple as a photograph or a walk in the park. If you can identify your muse and turn to it when you need inspiration, this will help you unlock your creative energy.

Who is Your Muse?

Take a minute to think about the people you know. Who makes you feel inspired? Is there someone you chat with over coffee and then you find yourself rushing home full of creative ideas? If there is, this person is your muse.

You don’t have to limit yourself to just one muse. Artist Pablo Picasso considered every woman he had a relationship with his muses. It may be that simply going out and socializing is a good way to get inspired. Your muse may be a stranger you have a conversation with at a bus stop or waiting in line at the grocery store.

Favorite Things

Your muse may not be a person at all. It could be Continue reading

Creativity and Innovation are All About Taking Risks

One of the key traits of creative people is that they are risk takers. They are not afraid to put something new out into the world that might be laughed at. Creative people don’t mind being dismissed as crazy or unusual. These types of people often generate the most innovative ideas. If you want to be a more creative person, this is a personality trait that you need to foster in yourself, and it’s easy to do.

First, take a moment to consider that without risks there are no rewards. You may have a few failures but if you can keep your failures from discouraging you, the next attempt might be a huge success. If you have what you believe are good ideas, but you’re afraid to take the plunge and put them out into the world, here are some ideas for changing your mindset.

The Worst That Can Happen

What’s the worst that could happen when you present a new idea? You might face criticism or doubts, but that’s all. In fact, you might face Continue reading

Innovation Tips to Grow Your Business

Successfully leveraging innovation can affect all areas of your business.  Learning and applying innovation skills can help you develop new products or services, solve problems, and improve the efficiency of your business operations.  Here are a few tips for using innovation to your advantage.

1. Distinguish your Business from Competitors.  Businesses (regardless of size) can distinguish themselves from others in the marketplace by identifying and developing creative ideas.  Rather than simply following “industry standards” and creating more of the same products, apply an Innovation Strategy to develop products that set your company apart from everyone else.  Look for ways to make your products faster, more efficient or more fun to use.  Set a goal to identify problems faced by your market and create solutions to those problems.  When you implement a solution to a problem faced by everyone in your market, you will stand out as a market leader.

2. Get Free Advertising.  When you distinguish yourself as an innovator (or innovative company), you attract media attention.  Think about all the free advertising today’s most innovative companies receive.  When you develop innovative products that solve industry problems or simply improve the lives of individuals, you will receive Continue reading

Did You Set Your 2018 Innovation Goals Yet?

It’s time to set your Innovation Goals for 2018.

As you plan your business activities for the coming year, consider adding some innovation activities to your plan. Here are a few tips that can help your business discover innovative ideas and turn them into profit.

1. Schedule time for innovation activities. You can start by scheduling a 10-15 minute block of time for creative thinking or brainstorming. This can be done alone or with a group of people. During this time, turn off your phone, email notification, and other distractions. Dedicate this block of time to thinking about solutions to current problems or thinking about how to further improve your current products/services.

2. Find your innovation environment. Find the environment that stimulates your creativity. Some people find energy walking outside or going to a quiet place. Others are inspired in Continue reading

Don’t Let a Corporate Bully Destroy Your Tech Company

Robert and I had been working on a new project for barely a month when I received a frantic phone call from him.

“We’ve been sued for patent infringement by Acme!”

Acme was a large corporation with very deep pockets.  This was Robert’s worst nightmare – a potentially deadly lawsuit right after starting his new job with the company.

Note:  Obviously the company names and product names have been changed to protect the actual parties involved in the litigation.

I started working with Robert’s company (Awesome Corporation) a month before that phone call.  Awesome was growing quickly and getting rave reviews of its new line of flux capacitors.  Many satisfied customers were enjoying excellent results using the capacitors.

Awesome had a great team of creative people who were Continue reading

The Fun and Easy Way to Create an Innovation Culture

“Not another brainstorming luncheon!”

“I should have called in sick today.”

Is your company’s idea of creating an innovation culture to simply schedule a few brainstorming luncheons scattered throughout the year?  I’ve seen this tired approach at dozens of companies.

Predictably, companies schedule a mandatory brainstorming meeting with their engineers and developers.  The team members are “rewarded” with pizza and soda and asked to come up with creative ideas.

Unfortunately, most of these ideas are specific to the projects the engineers and developers are currently working on.  This approach does not solve big problems or generate disruptive innovations.  Instead, it’s merely an opportunity to think about the team’s current projects.

These traditional brainstorming sessions are usually limited to the engineering/development team members, which misses out on Continue reading

3 Secrets to Creating a Profitable Innovation Strategy in Any Tech Company

It was John’s first day on the job as VP of Product Development for a mid-sized technology company in San Jose, California.  During an introductory meeting with his team members, John asked “Tell me about the company’s idea pipeline.”   The room went silent.  There was no idea pipeline.

John had recently left another technology company with a system for generating a steady flow of new ideas that enabled his team to keep the company’s products fresh and competitive.  By the end of the meeting at the new company, John discovered that the company lacked any significant systems for identifying, developing, or protecting innovative ideas.

John knew from previous experience that, without a constant flow of new ideas, the company would lose customers as well as its most talented team members.  John himself had left a previous employer because he wanted to work in an environment that encouraged and rewarded innovation.  The lack of an idea pipeline was a serious concern.

John understood that losing his team’s brightest minds would stall the idea pipeline and allow the company’s competitors to create better products and steal the company’s customers.  He saw the threat Continue reading

Top 3 Innovation Tips for 2017

If you want your company to stay ahead of the innovation curve, you must develop innovative ideas on a continuous basis.  For technology companies, innovations are a critical part of creating successful new products that maintain a competitive edge.

If you don’t maintain a steady flow of innovative ideas, one of your competitors will develop the next “must have” product in your industry and steal your customers.  Don’t let this happen to your company in 2017.  Start taking action right now to develop an Innovation Strategy that produces a constant stream of new ideas that generate competitive new products and position your company as a market leader.

Here are 3 tips you can start using today to foster more innovative ideas in your organization.

1. Create An Innovation Group – Attempting to launch a company-wide innovation program often triggers a strong protest because it might cause disruptions to the operation of the business.  Employees are already overloaded, so a new innovation program is typically met with resistance.  But, I have successfully used Innovation Groups to Continue reading