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 is a team sport, and no one describes this better than Professor Keith Sawyer in his book, Group Genius. Keith's blog, Creativity & Innovation, highlights one of the most significant aspects of successful innovation - that groups of people are likely to be more creative than individuals working on their own. His latest example of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios illustrates this well.
“Creativity involves a large number of people from different disciplines working together to solve a great many problems…A movie contains literally tens of thousands of ideas.” (Ed Catmull, Pesident of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios)
Why are groups so effective? What is the optimal group size? What is the best way to leverage the group dynamic? As a practitioner and teacher of innovation, I have witnessed group innovation many times in many settings, and I observe three factors that might explain why teams outperform individuals at innovating.
A colleague asked me, "Who is that innovation guru at the Harvard Business School?" That's easy: Dr. Teresa Amabile.
Dr. Amabile heads the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School and is the only tenured professor at a top business school to devote her entire research program to the study of creativity. She is one of the world's leading voices in business innovation.
People can improve the quality, originality, and elegance of ideas by extensively forecasting the implication of those ideas during the generation phase. Researchers from The University of Oklahoma studied the effect of forecasting on idea evaluation and implementation planning. In the experiment, 141 undergraduate students were asked to formulate advertising campaigns for a new product. These campaigns were evaluated by a panel of judges. Prior to formulating the campaigns, participants were asked to forecast the implication of their ideas and the forecast the effects of a plan for implementing their best idea.
The power of the SIT method lies in the fact that inventors, for thousands of years, have embedded five simple patterns into their inventions, usually without knowing it. These patterns are the "DNA" of products that can be extracted and applied to any product or service to create new-to-the-world innovations. Here is an example of an innovator working diligently to create a new innovation in the field of music - called "Music for Shuffle." The inventor, Matthew Irvine Brown, is using the Divison technique to create musical phrases that can be played together in any random order. The phrases interlock with each other to create a continuous stream of music - a song. Listen:
Giving your employees a voice in matters boosts their creativity. New research shows that, over time, procedural fairness (giving people the opportunity to express their views) has a positive maintaining effect on creativity whereas stifling their views decreases creativity.
How we judge a creative idea is affected by how we perceive its inventor. Without realizing it, we may overvalue or undervalue a new concept and make poor choices in the product development process as a result.
Most people think innovation starts with a well-defined problem, and then you brainstorm a solution. Try the opposite: Work backwards by taking an abstract, conceptual solution and finding a problem it can solve. By constraining and channeling our brains, we can make them work both harder and smarter to find creative solutions—on demand.
Fifty years ago on Feb. 9, 1964, the Beatles made their first appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show." A record 73 million people watched that night. And the rest, of course, is history.
The Beatles were innovators, and they did it systematically using templates. The Beatles were corporate innovators who created immense fortunes for their shareholders. They used structured methods, experimentation, and technology the same way Fortune 500 companies create new products and services.
Go behind the scenes of "Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results." Enjoy this one hour webinar with co-author, Drew Boyd, who shares insights about the writing of the book and its impact on the creative potential of organizations.