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In this context, creativity is the mental process by which an idea for a new product or service concept or feature is triggered and conceived. The goal is to figure out how the technologies, systems, methods, and processes that are possible or available might be used to address unmet customer needs and company objectives. But considering all the options that are possible and trying to conceive how each might contribute to a solution is daunting: there are thousands of possible permutations.
Over the years, a number of different methods, including lateral thinking, SCAMPER, and TRIZ (the theory of inventive problem solving), have been devised to help focus and trigger creativity. Companies have had varying degrees of success with these methods, but no one method has prevailed, largely because their principles are too abstract for easy use. For practical, day-to-day use, a company needs something more concrete and precise.
Although it may be counterintuitive, giving the idea generation process a structure actually enhances, rather than limits, creativity because it channels and focuses creative energy exactly where it needs to be.
By translating the creativity principles of several popular methods, including TRIZ, into a language that works within that framework, a comprehensive, an easy-to-use framework can be devised. The framework consists of three sets of concrete, focused, concept-level creativity triggers. These triggers are designed to help companies devise (1) new product and service platforms, (2) new business models, and (3) new product and service features. The framework will be an indispensible tool for those entrusted with coming up with their company’s next big idea. There are three rules to follow when tackling innovation with this framework:
Although it may be counterintuitive, giving the idea generation process a structure actually enhances, rather than limits, creativity because it channels and focuses creative energy exactly where it needs to be. Instead of generating hundreds of questionable ideas, this framework leads to the creation of a handful of breakthrough ideas that the organization can pursue with confidence and that customers are likely to treasure.
By Tony Ulwick
Tony Ulwick is the founder and CEO of Strategyn Inc., and the author of the best -selling book, What Customers Want. He has published numerous articles on innovation management in the Harvard Business Review and the Sloan Management Review. Founded in 1991, Strategyn has worked successfully with companies such as Microsoft, Chiquita Brands, Hallmark, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, WellPoint, Motorola and Pfizer, helping them establish effective innovation strategies and driving them through implementation.