Archive for Idea Generation

Cook’s Recipe for Corporate Innovation


Scott Cook of Intuit recently spoke at CHI 2006 on Corporate Innovation:
Here's his recipe – the five models of innovation:

  1. The lone genius
  2. The boss is a genius
  3. Copy competitors' inventions
  4. Cloister the geniuses in a lab
  5. Make your people the geniuses

Nope, 1 – 4 aren't from – they are real life approaches used by many firms. Mr. Cook believes that only No. 5 works in the long term.

"The source of invention is unlikely to be the big executive: innovation comes from where the business connects to customers. It scales, because it allows the company to create many "contact" groups between the company and the customers."

In many firms, the only "contact" group is the sales force, which is usually far removed, if not totally disconnected from the innovation process. Sales people are supposed to sell and "execute", not "think". McDonald's – one of the big success stories of the 20th century – was created by a 60 year old milkshake machine salesman. How much innovation potential lies undiscovered in your sales force? Start harvesting those ideas now!

Thanks to Antonella Pavese for writing about Scott Cook's speech and for the cool collection of stories about innovation.


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Mind Mapping

A mind map (or mind-map) is a diagram used for linking words and ideas to a central key word or idea. It is used to visualize, classify, structure, and generate ideas, as well as an aid in study, problem solving, and decision making. [From Wikipedia – read more]

Some very good examples can be seen here at the Buzan Centre’s Mind Map Gallery.

Some awesome examples are at the Customer Evangelism University.

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Bug Lists

A bug list is just a little pencil and a notepad that fits in your pocket. Whenever you find something that bugs you, just scribble it down. Then spend an hour every day trying to come up with solutions. It's fun and once you get the hang of it, you can apply this tool to any product or service!

I like using the PocketMod – a printed template that folds into a cute little PDA – for my bug lists.


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Paper Napkin Sketches

Have you ever scribbled an idea onto a paper napkin over a hot cup of coffee? Well, next time, send it in to the Catia Napkin Sketch Contest over at Core77. Check out the winners of last year's contest at the site.

And here's another great example from the at Stanford:

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Harvey Cards

This tool comes from Core77 – the top design site. Harvey Cards are a simple but effective set of techniques for brainstorming new ideas. You can find them here – just print and cut.

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Kenichi-san’s Questions

Management guru Kenichi Ohmae came up with this idea generation tool. Ask yourself the following questions, one at a time. Take a few minutes to write down the answers to each before you go on to the next one.
What's it going to be like 5 years from now?
1. Mobile Phone
2. Living Room
3. Personal Computer
4. My company
5. My family
6. My personal value

Kenichi-san's point is that it's easier to be creative about something you're not deeply involved with. (So if you work in the mobile phone industry, start with something else!). But once your mind gets used to thinking creatively, you can slowly progress to more important things. Worked for me.

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