Three Ideation Methods to Enhance Your Innovative Thinking

Three Ideation Methods to Enhance Your Innovative Thinking

“In a world the place enterprise is extra all for ‘greatest observe’ moderately than completely different observe, is it any marvel that services and products, firms and organisations are all starting to look the identical?” the three authors rhetorically ask in ?What If!’s traditional ebook on creativity and innovation, Sticky Knowledge. How to Begin a Inventive Revolution at Work. They’ve acquired an important level there. So, let’s see how we may also help you stand aside in your work by studying three new strategies—particularly, Re-Expression, Revolution, and Random Hyperlinks. These may also help you soar above the humdrum and make customers go ‘Wow!’ – not since you’ll have executed the ‘executed factor’ however since you’ll have executed the proper factor, by going past.

As a designer, pondering creatively and developing with new concepts go along with the territory. Particularly to those that have little understanding of how design ‘works’, we have a tendency to get held within the type of esteem the place they see us as wellsprings of creativity, producing nice output however nonetheless in an analogous manner to these doing different roles. It’s our job, proper? Being thought of bottomless provides of cool concepts might sound flattering, however we all know the truth concerned in a inventive profession. Arising with concepts which can be actually groundbreaking will be troublesome. We regularly find yourself pondering like our opponents. Thinking about issues in a fully new manner is downright onerous, in reality. The explanation lies in human nature—we’re wired to match new info and challenges into our present assumptions in regards to the world, moderately than problem these assumptions and habits. Getting to a spot the place you possibly can devise actually progressive concepts takes rising up and out of your regular mind-set. Don’t fear; this entails fairly a little bit of enjoyable and no out-of-body experiences.

Why is Innovative Thinking Tough?

In on a regular basis life, we’d like to have the option to make sense of the world in a short time, with out pondering an excessive amount of about all the assorted stimuli that we encounter. To do this, we match new info into psychological classes often known as schemas. The idea of schemas first appeared within the subject of psychology, thanks to the developmental psychology pioneer Jean Piaget. That was within the 1920s, and it has since grow to be a broadly recognised time period in psychology. You would say that schemas are like our personal personal idea about how the world works. We’d like schemas so we don’t have to query on a regular basis assumptions such because the information that an orange tastes candy and that we’ve got to cease strolling when the visitors gentle turns pink. Nonetheless, after we set out to problem our schemas so as to be progressive, they’ll grow to be inflexible. Consequently, overlooking info that may problem how we take into consideration the world comes all too simply to us. So, after we need to be inventive and assume new ideas, we’d like methods to problem our routine methods of pondering.

Earlier than we discover these, let’s look at extra about how schemas work. Understanding schemas will make it easier to problem your individual, and it’s possible you’ll effectively be taught extra about your self within the course of.

How Schemas Work

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Schemas enable us to make sense of the world, and speedily so; however they’ll additionally imply that we overlook options that don’t match into our methods of pondering.

We people have schemas for every thing we’ve got encountered earlier than, from several types of birds to several types of behaviour. If I’m strolling by the ocean and I hear a fowl screeching loudly, I don’t have to look at it extra carefully to realise that the fowl is a seagull. Different info in my ‘seagull schema’ tells me that it’s white, gray, and black and has an orange beak. I don’t have to take a more in-depth take a look at it to know that.

Schemas serve an vital operate as a result of they permit us to decode the world about us with out having to look at every thing. With out schemas, even our on a regular basis setting would shortly grow to be a really overwhelming place. The ‘assist’ they supply comes at a price, although. One draw back to schemas is that they are often troublesome to change; one other is that they make us overlook info that doesn’t match into the schema. If the seagull I heard occurred to be blue, I won’t even discover. A well known instance of schemas that may grow to be problematic is stereotypes. After we meet somebody who seems or clothes a sure manner, we instantly have a variety of expectations for the way we predict that particular person goes to assume and behave. One thing so simple as whether or not an individual is utilizing an Apple MacBook or a Home windows PC makes us have completely different expectations of that particular person. A few of our expectations can be right and others incorrect, however analysis has proven that we’re extra seemingly to discover the issues about the person who match into our present schemas, and overlook issues that don’t (see, for instance, Bem, 1981). That signifies that we miss out on new and stunning info. It additionally has the unhappy tendency to assist an unwary thoughts write off an individual or one thing primarily based on a single, typically superficial, attribute.

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Schemas can lead to stereotypes. One thing so simple as whether or not you utilize a MacBook or a PC will lead individuals to assume issues about who you’re and what you do. Not all MacBook customers are inventive varieties or ardently progressive of their politics; likewise, not all PC customers are loyal traditionalists.

Schemas are inflexible, however—after all—they’ll and do change. Typically, altering how we take into consideration issues requires a aware effort, and generally our environment will drive us to change our outdated schemas. An excessive instance of how the world round us can drive us to change our schemas is for those who proceed to hear seagulls in your each day walks and sooner or later you search for and detect that three of the seagulls are certainly vibrant blue. The primary time you see blue seagulls, you’ll almost certainly not consider your individual eyes and also you’ll hold your outdated schema whereas reassuring your self that “seagulls are white, gray, and black”. You’ll additionally attempt to discover a logical clarification such because the reflection from the solar. Nonetheless, for those who proceed to meet blue seagulls day after day, you’ll break your schema and create a brand new one. (You might also be checking the information reviews to see if a nuclear energy station had been having issues lately.) This sort of detecting and studying isn’t what we’re after right here. As a substitute, we’re going to make it easier to detect, be taught, and invent blue seagulls – or whichever progressive services or products you goal to design.

In the event you generally discover that your expectations of how one thing works—or how individuals behave—is limiting your capacity to think about new options and concepts, you possibly can attempt one of many following three methods to problem that and rise above your common mind-set.

Methods for Innovative Thinking

“There’s a quite simple legislation in operation right here, the primary legislation of creativity -the high quality and uniqueness of stimulus in has a direct influence on the standard and uniqueness of concepts out.”
—From Sticky Knowledge. How to Begin a Inventive Revolution at Work

If you need to problem your common mind-set in order to provide you with new concepts, having concrete instruments will come in additional than useful. The ebook Sticky Knowledge. How to Begin a Inventive Revolution at Work, from 2002, has grow to be a traditional in innovation literature and has some glorious recommendations for the way to begin pondering otherwise. So, with out additional ado, let’s get down to discussing our three strategies in full:

  • Re-Expression
  • Revolution
  • Random Hyperlinks

The unique concept behind all three was that they’re issues we must always use in brainstorming classes, with a staff; fortunately, although, you can too use them by yourself.


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The thought behind re-expression is that folks in the identical enterprise or from the identical background typically use the identical phrases to describe points and concepts. After we use the identical phrases many instances, they grow to be related to a whole lot of associations or schemas. For instance, let’s say that your activity is to provide you with contemporary new concepts for bettering a health app and make it stand out towards its opponents. If you concentrate on the phrase ‘health’, you most likely have many associations about what health is and the way you obtain it, particularly you probably have executed your background analysis correctly. Your associations are most likely not that completely different out of your opponents’—who, not unpredictably, are additionally making an attempt to provide you with progressive options for a health app. You may take into consideration health centres, health trackers, coaching programmes, and so forth.

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After we take into consideration health, individuals from comparable backgrounds and companies have a tendency to have comparable associations.

Re-expression is a technique to assist you concentrate on the problem in a brand new and completely different manner that can be completely different from what your opponents are pondering. That is the place the enjoyable actually begins. Have you ever ever heard the phrase “can’t see the wooden for the timber”? It means being too shut to one thing to have the option to discover facets of it and even its true id. So, getting distance in your goal topic is important. The ebook suggests 3 ways you are able to do this:

  1. Re-express in numerous phrases. Give you as many associated phrases or metaphors as attainable for the difficulty (services or products) you’re searching for to innovate. The phrase doesn’t have to imply precisely the identical factor; it may be one thing associated (an instance for ‘health’ could possibly be ‘endurance’, ‘play’, ‘well being’, ‘restore’, ‘robustness’, and ‘energy’). Then take into consideration what associations you’ve gotten for every of the brand new phrases. Do a few of them encourage your unique challenge? How? Why?
  2. Re-express in numerous senses. One other technique for bringing about new methods to take into consideration a problem is to use completely different senses. You would draw it, act it out, or construct it in Legos. Expressing it in numerous senses will enable you to see connections that weren’t beforehand apparent. Once more, you need to determine how they encourage your unique challenge. As you’re doing this, ask your self why every connection hyperlinks to the difficulty. As an example, for those who’ve drawn a tree with highly effective branches and a robust, intricate root system, it’s possible you’ll uncover that whereas health might imply ‘movement’ to many, there’s no motive it may well’t contain ‘vitamin’ and ‘settled in good soil (i.e., way of life habits)’, too.
  3. Re-express from one other perspective. Strive to take into consideration how another person, with completely different sensibilities from yours, would take into consideration the difficulty. E.g., how would a 5-year-old take into consideration health?—most likely extra like play and enjoyable than train. And the way would an individual in a wheelchair take into consideration health? Difficult? With envy? With nostalgia? This technique is in step with ‘Excessive Personas’. Your assumptions don’t want to be an correct reflection of how the opposite particular person would assume. The principle factor is that imagining one other perspective will enable you to see the difficulty otherwise, and that’s the important thing to the enterprise right here.

You may download and print our Re-expression template to make it easier to get began utilizing the strategy.


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The way in which we take into consideration challenges, resembling creating an progressive health app, is commonly restricted by the principles or attributes we affiliate with the difficulty—e.g., how our schemas outline health. Typically, we’re not even consciously conscious of the principles and attributes we consider apply to a problem; consequently, difficult our assumptions is troublesome. We discover a traditional, albeit excessive, illustration of that in historical past books. One motive Christopher Columbus had a lot bother getting financing for his trans-Atlantic voyage was down to the Spanish court docket’s (together with just about everybody else in 1492’s) assumption that it could waste three ships and the lives of these on board. Though the choice makers humoured Columbus to an extent and put apart the notion that everybody would sail off the sting of the world, one other assumption was in the best way. Assuming the world was spherical, as Columbus professed, there was the ‘astronomically huge’ distance concerned—‘Why, everybody may starve!’ should have been a predominant worry, due to this fact. Whereas we are able to hardly blame the individuals of the day for clinging to their beliefs—particularly, that exploring the unknown would contain doom-welcoming payback—from this, we can see how assumptions can block our visions and be so shut to us that recognising them is difficult.

  1. With the Revolution technique, you begin by writing down as many guidelines or attributes as you possibly can consider in regards to the challenge you’re engaged on. For health, guidelines could possibly be: we transfer our our bodies, after which we ‘do’ health; health takes place at devoted locations resembling open air or in health centres; you do it to keep in form, and so forth.
  2. Upon getting recognized as many guidelines as you possibly can consider, you can begin difficult these guidelines by asking ‘what if’ questions. E.g., what for those who did not want to go to a devoted place in order to pursue health, however health got here to you? One reply could possibly be co-working locations that embrace gyms and work-out classes.
  3. Undergo the entire ‘what if’ questions. Are you able to provide you with concrete concepts to reply them? Do they encourage different concepts?

In a manner, difficult a rule is similar as creating a brand new obstruction that you simply want to work round—as a result of you’ve gotten created a distinct rule that requires you to take into consideration issues in a brand new manner. The limitation requires you to assume otherwise.

On your inspiration, you possibly can download and print our Revolution template to make it easier to get began utilizing the strategy.

Random Hyperlinks

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Random Hyperlinks is a technique that permits you to assume extra broadly about your problem. It’s additionally a method for stretching your creativeness and reaching out at some thrilling prospects. The identify just about says all of it; even so, let’s get the deluxe tour, simply so we will be certain of precisely how we are able to apply it.

  1. With Random Hyperlinks, you choose a random merchandise and drive a connection to the difficulty you’re engaged on. An instance could possibly be discovering a connection between a case for glasses and health. Take into consideration what attributes and associations you relate to a case for glasses: It’s one thing you possibly can convey with you; it may well open and shut; it protects one thing fragile; it matches in your hand, and so forth. It’s okay to be summary about what attributes your random merchandise has.
  2. Then you definitely attempt to drive a connection—i.e., what for those who create a health app for people who find themselves in a roundabout way fragile (e.g., those that are injured, sick, or feeling depressed) to assist them really feel higher and get their energy again.

Inside motive, this technique can take you to some pricelessly awe-inspiring vantage factors. It’s additionally a substantial amount of enjoyable, as you get to ‘shoehorn’ ideas over your challenge at hand in order to see how effectively they may match.

You may download and print our Random Links template to make it easier to get began utilizing the strategy.

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Borrowing attributes from a random object—e.g., a case for glasses, will make it easier to strategy your problem in a brand new manner.

The Take Away

The way in which we take into consideration new info or challenges is commonly restricted by our schemas, or psychological slots and cabinets into which we categorise objects. We have a tendency to overlook new info and new alternatives in favour of creating the world match into the classes that we’re used to—which might really feel extra comfy however be terribly constraining. Three distinct strategies enable you to problem your common mind-set: Re-Expression, Revolution, and Random Hyperlinks. You should use these once you want to take into consideration a problem otherwise or to provide you with new and progressive concepts. Exploration leads to innovation, and getting these highly effective new insights in your future designs will pay huge dividends.

References & The place to Study Extra

Dave Allan, Matt Kingdon, Kris Murrin, Daz Rudkin, ?What If!, Sticky Knowledge: How to Begin a Inventive Revolution at Work, 2002

If you need to be taught extra about Schema Principle, you possibly can learn the traditional paper:

David E. Rumelhart, ‘Schemata: the constructing blocks of cognition’. In: R.J. Spiro et al. (eds) Theoretical Points in Studying Comprehension, Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1980

Sandra L. Bem, ‘Gender schema idea: A cognitive account of intercourse typing’, Psychological Overview, Vol 88(4), p 354-364, Jul 1981

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