A weekly newsletter on creativity, ideas, innovation and invention.
Tuesday, 21 December 2004
Hello and welcome to another issue of Report 103, your weekly newsletter on Creativity, ideas, innovation and invention.
As always, if you have news about creativity, idea innovation or invention please feel free to forward it to me for potential inclusion in Report103. Your comments and feedback are also always welcome.
GOOD BRAINSTORMING AND BAD BRAINSTORMING
There are two popular approaches to organised brainstorming: the “Post-it” method and the “Shout-it” method. One is good. The other is flawed.
The Post-it method involves everyone writing ideas on Post-its and sticking them on the wall. There is generally discussion of the ideas and they are often moved around to form clumps of associated ideas.
The Shout-it method has everyone shouting out ideas while the facilitator notes ideas down on a white board. Ideally, this is followed up by discussion, selection of best ideas and evaluation. However, sometimes people stop after the idea generation bit.
Which one is flawed? The Post-it version, of course. To understand why, you need to consider the concept behind brainstorming: feeding from the collective creativity of a group of varied people.
Bear in mind that no idea is truly original. Rather, ideas are derived by bringing together different bits of knowledge in an original way. In a brainstorming session, when one person shouts out an idea, that provides new information which the other participants can use to build their own ideas further. As more ideas are shouted out, there is more raw material for building ever more radical ideas. And that is good: radical ideas often inspire participants to think in new directions, thus inspiring even more radical ideas.
Better still, radical ideas frequently get people laughing and nothing gets the mind working more creatively and frees up creative inhibitions better than laughter.
Moreover, the shouting of ideas and enthusiasm that can be generated in a shout-it brainstorm session produces a marvellous creative energy.
For similar reasons, employee suggestion schemes, idea management tools and idea campaigns will produce more innovative ideas when participants can see each others' ideas and collaborate or build upon them.
A final note: proponents of post-it brainstorming are welcome to defend your practice. Send me an e-mail explaining why you believe post-it brainstorming is more effective. If I get good arguments, I shall publish them here.
Ever had an idea that is simply not viable at the present, but would likely be worth implementing in a year or two? Probably. Such ideas may not be practicable for a number of reasons. They may involve a technology that is not ready, you may already be implementing too many ideas or you may simply not have the budget at present.
Unfortunately, such ideas all too easily get lost while waiting to be implemented. If you keep ideas in a notebook, like I do, a year old idea will soon become buried under hundreds of newer ideas. If you manage ideas in an idea management tool, the system can readily fill up with ideas worth keeping but not worth implementing for a year or two or more – and that can distract from new ideas worth implementing in the near term.
The solution is simple: idea vaults. Idea vaults are places to keep ideas for future development. On an individual level, an idea vault can be a simple file or storage area for storing ideas. Of course, it is critical to review the ideas in such an idea vault on a regular basis, at least once per quarter would be sensible.
If you use an employee suggestion scheme, an idea vault is likely to be a folder on your computer hard drive with ideas for the future. Again, it is essential that ideas are reviewed regularly.
The best solution, is an automated solution. We're implementing an idea vault on Jenni idea management. This will allow the IdeaMaster (who administrates Jenni) to put ideas in the idea vault and indicate when she should be reminded to review the idea. Reminders are e-mailed at the chosen interval.
For more information on Jenni, please see http://www.creativejeffrey.com/jenni/
END OF YEAR SPECIAL
Speaking of Jenni Idea Management, we'd like to close another deal or two before the year is out. So, if you confirm a subscription for Jenni before 31 December 204, we'll provide give you the first month's service as a free gift! Contact me for more details.
NEW YEARS INNOVATIONS
The last few weeks leading to Christmas tend to be mad in most companies, especially business to consumer companies. But once Christmas comes and goes, a quiet often descends. The Christmas rush is over, people are starting to go on holiday and everyone can either breath a sigh of relief at the heady sales – or start to panic that goals have not been achieved.
I have a better idea. Use this quiet spell to come up with two or three innovations for your firm (or yourself if you prefer). Write them down and make a pledge to implement them next year. Stick to that pledge.
And, if you come up with any really interesting New Year's Innovations, tell me about them. I'd love to hear them. .
Bwiti bvba, the Belgian based innovation services firm announced today that it is providing its Jenni idea management virtual software to Santa Claus's global operations.
“Santa's operations have remained largely unchanged for decades,” says Bwiti's managing director Jeffrey Baumgartner. “So we offered Santa, his elves and the reindeer Jenni as a means of capturing, evaluating, implementing and profiting from ideas.”
According to Bartholomew, Santa's elf in charge of innovation: “we've already had some smashing ideas. For instance, Prancer [the reindeer] has come up with a great idea to improve logistics. It will allow us to deliver presents 20% faster globally. And for an old guy like Mr. Claus, that means a lot.”
“Another idea we're looking at,” says Bartholomew, “is using a bungee rope for faster deliveries. One end of the bungee rope is attached to Mr. Claus's belt. The other is attached to the top of the chimney. Mr. Claus then simply jumps down the chimney, drops off the presents under the tree and bounces back up again. The bungee rope is still under development. But, we believe that it can improve delivery times by a whopping 30-35% and hope to have it operational for Christmas 2005.”
When asked if he was pleased with Jenni, Santa Claus simply remarked: “Ho ho ho!”
This will be the last Report 103 for 2004. The next issue will be e-mailed to you on 4 January 2005. Also in the new year, we will have to change our publishing interval to fortnightly rather than weekly. As much as I enjoy writing this newsletter and the feedback I get from you, my schedule is overflowing and my business partners are nagging me that I do not spend enough time on them. So you will henceforth receive Report 103 on the first and third Tuesdays of every month for the time being. Sorry about that!
Best wishes to you and your families for a happy Christmas and/or Hanukkah and for a prosperous and innovative New Year!!!