Innovation in Practice Blog

May 4, 2021

How to Use Teamwork to Become More Innovative

Creativity is a team sport. It is not a solo event.  When you try to generate creative ideas all by yourself, you’re sitting in a vacuum. […]
April 27, 2021

How to Take Advantage of Distractions for Greater Creativity

We face hundreds of distractions every day. There is no way to escape them completely. We can’t just get up every morning and spend hours thinking […]
April 20, 2021

How to Generate Creative Ideas At Home, Work, and Everywhere In Between

Creativity is nothing more than combining two things in an unexpected way. However, it is critical that it really is unexpected. For example, if you mash […]
April 13, 2021

Creativity for Charities: How to Apply the SIT Techniques to Be More Creative and Resourceful

Charities and nonprofit organizations need to be just as innovative – and in some ways, they have to be even more innovative than for-profit organizations. Think […]
April 6, 2021

Gender Role in Creative Thinking – Not What You Think!

Guess who’s more creative – men or women?  Well, neither is more creative than the other because both are equally creative. They just have different roles […]
March 30, 2021

Why People Resist Our Innovative Ideas and How To Overcome It

Try to recall and go back to those moments when your ideas got rejected. How did you handle those rejections? Did you just instantly give up? […]
March 23, 2021

Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Secret Key to Unlocking Your Creative Potential

No matter who you are, it doesn’t matter if you’re born creative or gifted in some way, everyone has the potential to become more creative, regardless […]
March 16, 2021

Creativity? Make It Someone Else’s Problem

Are you in a creative rut? Then make it someone else’s problem.  Now, it doesn’t mean you should just stop being creative and outsource your creative […]
March 9, 2021

Avoid Cliches Like the Plague – How to Speak and Write More Creatively

Cliches oftentimes do a good job of communicating what your point is. Other people understand them readily, but using the same old cliches can get boring.  […]
March 2, 2021

Two New Apps to Help You Learn Creativity

Can you learn to be more creative?  100%! There are lots of ways for you to learn about systematic creativity. In fact, here are two amazing […]
January 8, 2009

Applied Marketing Innovation

Learning a corporate innovation method begins with formal training, and there is no better place to do that than in graduate businesss school. I am looking foward to meeting the 37 students enrolled in my MBA course at the University of Cincinnati this month. The course, "Applied Marketing Innovation," is a full credit "special topics" course. It is a fusion of Systematic Inventive Thinking and The Big Picture marketing framework. The Syllabus can be downloaded, but here are some details about it: This course focuses on how to create value and growth through innovation in new and existing markets. Students will learn the skills of innovation and how to apply those skills within the context of a marketing strategy framework. Students will apply innovation methods across the entire marketing management continuum including strategy, segmentation, targeting, positioning, and the 4P’s. The course will be taught using interactive workshop methods and techniques throughout. Students will first experience these facilitation techniques while learning innovation. They will then learn and practice these techniques so that they can apply them routinely throughout their graduate experience and beyond.
June 28, 2010

Innovation Sighting: Cannes Lions 2010

Cannes Lions, the International Advertising Festival, is the world's only truly global meeting place for professionals in the communications industry. It celebrates advertising winners each year in a variety of categories. The 57th festival was held last week. The Young Lions Film Competition is held the same week. Two creatives have 48 hours to write, shoot and edit a 30-second commercial. At the beginning of the week, the teams receive a brief from a charity chosen by the Festival. Forty-eight hours later, the teams' work is judged by the Film Lions jury. Here is a winning commercial from this year's Young Lions Film Competition:
September 6, 2010

The Voice of the Product

Could the greatest innovation of all time be a method of innovation? Roger Smith proposed this in The Evolution of Innovation. Is such a method out there? The answer is yes. Suppose you want to come up with a new product idea. Where do you begin? What method would you use? Conventional thinking suggests three possible directions. First, we could seek insights from our customers through research and observation (Voice of the Customer). Second, we could emulate what past inventors such as Edison and Disney did to create new ideas (Voice of the Expert). Or we could seek ideas from competitors and other sources using the "open" mindset (Voice of the Market).
November 15, 2010

Marketing Innovation: The Inversion Tool

Creating innovative TV commercials is more effective when using patterns embedded in other innovative commercials. Professor Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues discovered that 89% of 200 award winning ads fall into a few simple, well-defined design structures. Their latest book, "Cracking the Ad Code," defines eight of these structures and provides a step-by-step approach to use them. Here are the eight tools:
April 4, 2011

Marketing Innovation: The Metaphor Tool

The Metaphor is the most commonly used - and abused - tool in marketing communications, especially in western cultures. It is a great way to attach meaning to a newly-launched product or brand. But some approaches are more effective than others. The tool is one of eight patterns embedded in most innovative commercials. Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues describe these simple, well-defined design structures in their book, "Cracking the Ad Code," and provide a step-by-step approach to using them. The eight tools are: 1. Unification 2. Activation 3. Metaphor 4. Subtraction 5. Extreme Consequence 6. Absurd Alternative 7. Inversion 8. Extreme Effort The Metaphor Tool takes a well-recognized and accepted cultural symbol and manipulates it to connect to the product, brand, or message. The trick is to do it in a non-obvious, clever way. The process is called fusion, and there are three versions of it: Metaphor fused to Product/Brand, Metaphor fused to Message, and Metaphor fused to both the Product/Brand and Message. Here is an example:
June 20, 2011

Marketing Innovation: Red Tape and The Inversion Tool

"Red tape" is defined as the collection or sequence of forms and procedures required to gain bureaucratic approval for something, especially when oppressively complex and time-consuming. That's how Southwest Airlines describes other airlines' frequent flyer programs versus its new Rapid Rewards program which has none of the traditional limitations like blackouts and point expiration. In a series of highly innovative commercials, Southwest demonstrates not one but two of the eight advertising tools described by Professor Jacob Goldenberg in "Cracking the Ad Code." These ads are flawlessly executed, funny, and memorable.
October 3, 2011

Marketing Innovation: Sharks to the Extreme

Great television commercials convey the right message in a creative way. They are memorable. The longer customers remember your commercial, the more cost effective the campaign. One way to make ads memorable is to make them funny and vivid. The Vividness Effect causes people to recall experiences and images that stand out in their minds. For example, sharks are scary, so they tend to be good choices to create vividness. But just showing sharks in a commercial is not enough. They have to be fused to the core marketing message - the value proposition. That is where you need a structured innovation process to channel the creativity process and regulate your thinking. Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues describe eight such tools in their book, "Cracking the Ad Code," and provide a step-by-step approach to using them. The tools are 1. Unification 2. Activation 3. Metaphor 4. Subtraction 5. Extreme Consequence 6. Absurd Alternative 7. Inversion and 8.Extreme Effort.
October 10, 2011

Social Enterprise Innovation

Congratulations to the Columbia Business School for hosting the 2011 Social Enterprise Conference. Six hundred enlightened attendees witnessed a unique lineup of keynote speakers and breakout sessions. Social enterprises are challenged to create new business models to capture social, economic and environmental value. The conference focused on supporting innovation, promoting sustainability, advancing technology, and building communities. Key Takeaways from my breakout session, “Designing a Better Social Enterprise,” were:
February 6, 2012

The Patterns in Super Bowl Commercials

Super Bowl commercials capture our attention because they tend to be highly creative and well-produced. At $3.5 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. Here are the eight tools: 1. Unification 2. Activation 3. Metaphor 4. Subtraction 5. Extreme Consequence 6. Absurd Alternative 7. Inversion 8. Extreme Effort Let's see how yesterday's 2012 Super Bowl ads fit these patterns.
May 7, 2012

Marketing Innovation: The Extreme Consequence Tool

Commercials that show the benefits of using the product are likely to be ignored because consumers expect it. The message becomes cliche. If the advertiser shows how the consumer is transformed by using the product, consumers become skeptical. Telling viewers they will become young and adventurous by drinking a soft drink lacks credibility. It is wishful thinking, but unrealistic. The ad is tossed aside. But show these same product benefits in an extreme, unrealistic way and the advertisement is likely to be more memorable. The message sinks in. That is the goal of the Extreme Consequence Tool. This tool creates ads that show the absurd result of using the product. Over exaggeration of the promise is viewed as clever and credible versus traditional exaggeration.