Super Bowl commercials capture our attention because they tend to be highly creative and well-produced. At around $4 million dollars for a thirty second spot, Super Bowl advertisers need to create the best, most innovative commercials possible. To do that, they use patterns. Professor Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues discovered that 89% of 200 award winning ads fall into a few simple, well-defined design structures. Their book, "Cracking the Ad Code," defines eight of these structures and provides a step-by-step approach to use them.
As a teacher, it's always rewarding to see my students create ideas that eventually make it into the marketplace. Here are some great innovations for the kitchen oven that a group of students created last year, January 2014. Later, we'll compare these to the new innovations announced by Whirlpool at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show.
Combining Systematic Inventive Thinking with Design Thinking yields wonderful innovations. The two go so well together. SIT brings a way to create ideas systematically while Design Thinking brings a way to articulate those ideas in an intuitive, appealing way. Take the Task Unification Technique, for example. It's one of five in the SIT method.
The economic outlook for 2015 is, by most accounts, "slightly better than 2014." That, of course, depends on what industry you're in. For some, that outlook could be a lot better with an injection of good, old fashioned innovation. Here is my short list of five industries most ripe of innovation in 2015.
This month marks the seven year anniversary of Innovation in Practice. As always, I want to thank my many readers and supporters who follow it.
2014 was an excellent year as our message about systematic creativity continues to be heard. Jacob Goldenberg and I launched our book, Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results last year, and it was nominated for Innovation Book of the Year. We're thrilled that the book is now published in fourteen languages. It is the first detailed description of Systematic Inventive Thinking (the method and the people at SIT LLC that taught it to me.)
On December 3, 2014, the first session of the Entrepreneurship Educators Forum Webinar Series took place. The vision for the project is to create a meeting place for the community to discuss the challenges of teaching entrepreneurship, and to build an open-source platform that will enable us to collect, curate and share knowledge, teaching materials and tools that will help us guide our students effectively. Bill Aulet opened the session with a review of a roadmap for entrepreneurship education at MIT that divides the process into three main stages – nucleation, product definition and venture development.
Philips North America announced VoiceItt, developer of the voice recognition software TalkItt, as the grand prize winner of the second annual Philips Innovation Fellows competition, in partnership with global web-based crowd funding site Indiegogo, recognizing the company and technology as the next meaningful innovation in health and well-being.
Could creativity be as simple as following templates? In 1914 psychologist Wolfgang Köhler embarked on a series of studies about chimpanzees and their ability to solve problems. He documented the research in his book The Mentality of Apes. In one experiment, he took a newborn chimp and placed it in an isolated cage, before the newborn saw or made contact with other chimps. He named her Nueva.
The Marketing Science Institute has formed a new Innovation Roundtable to explore common issues and challenges in the world of corporate innovation. The roundtable representatives are from Johnson & Johnson, GE, P&G, Diageo, Eastman Kodak, AT&T, Kraft, Merck, Thompson Healthcare, Praxair, Aetna, and General Mills.
What about adoption of ideas of others inside your organization? Innovators faces a particularly challenging issue getting colleagues to accept their ideas. Tanya Menon from the University of Chicago describes the paradox of an external idea being viewed as "tempting" while the exact same idea, coming from an internal source, is considered "tainted."
When you innovate on a regular basis, you create another problem for yourself...how to evaluate new product ideas to see which ones to pursue. Evan Williams has outlined a useful set of criteria to do just that in his article: "Will it Fly? How to Evaluate a New Product Idea." He has even applied the criteria to some of his own creations like Blogger and Twitter.
People often ask when is the best time to innovate: early in the pipeline process, middle, or late. Teams tend to resist innovation late in the process when they are busy launching a new product. Teams tend to resist innovating in the middle of the NPD process because they are too busy developing the next generation product. Teams tend to resist innovating early in the process because they are too busy developing franchise strategy. So when is the best time to innovate? Anytime.
The key to becoming extremely effective at innovation is to learn all the tools and templates that help create an initial, undefined construct, or what innovation researchers call "the pre-inventive form." This ability to apply a template, then find a useful purpose for the for what comes out of that template is what allows one to innovate on demand. Templates "make" people innovate.
Innovation should be viewed as a skill, not as a gift reserved only for special or uniquely-talented people. Innovation can be learned as with any business skill such as finance, process excellence, or leadership.