In 1946, Soviet inventor and science fiction writer Genrich Altshuller developed a methodology called TRIZ. It became known as “the theory of inventive problem-solving” and was based on a simple premise: across different disciplines and applications, the same challenges occur again and again. Unfortunately, people keep solving nearly identical problems from scratch. The main lesson from TRIZ is this: if you understand how your innovation challenge is similar to someone else’s, you can reapply solutions that already exist, instead of reinventing the wheel time and again.
It is not widely known that most people, before the advent of the Industrial Revolution around 1800, tended to go to sleep shortly after nightfall but then get up around midnight for several hours before going back to sleep until dawn. Modern lab experiments have been able to reproduce this ancient, two-sleep pattern. Furthermore, there is separate anecdotal evidence that a number of people currently practice divided sleep as a natural habit, without the prompting of an experiment. Some of these people, in turn, use their nighttime wakefulness period for creative thought, writing and problem solving. The divided sleep phenomenon fits in very well with the dualistic and holistic principles of East Asian philosophy. One should ideally integrate work, thought and sleep with the natural light cycle in order to maximize the potential for individual creativity over the course of a full day and night.
The potential of Design Thinking becomes more and more visible because organizations like Apple, Coca-Cola, IBM, Nike en Proctor & Gamble not only show overtly that they use it, but start showing significant results. They outperformed their peers in the last decade with 219%, measured by the Design Value Index (assessment by Design Management Institute).
“Eureka!’, Archimedes famously howled, while running butt naked through the streets of Syracuse. Soaking in his bath tub, the bearded Greek inventor had just discovered a new method of determining an object’s volume. Funnily enough, this well-known story captures two myths about innovation. One: it’s the work of a sole – and usually slightly eccentric – inventor. Two: chance has a part to play. For businesses, the reality is vastly different. Indeed, turning ideas into revenue requires quite a bit more than just ideation and luck.
Like taking vitamins or exercising daily, Tom Kelley, General Manager of IDEO, points out that fostering lifelong creativity depends on instituting good, healthy mental habits. This first habit on his list of five encourages thinkers to become hyper-aware of their environment, and to notice the common and everyday with new eyes. Capture fresh ideas and don’t be afraid to use them later, he insists.
To be able to use the full potential of innovation, psychological safety within teams and organisations is essential. Psychological safety is the shared belief that it is safe within the team for interpersonal risk taking. There is a direct relation between a psychological safe climate and performance of the team. (Edmondson 1999)
Where do creativity and innovation come from? It’s an age old question: are creativity and innovation innate abilities, something you’re either born with or not, or can they be learned? While the debate continues, the data is increasingly pointing to the fact that qualities like creativity and innovation are largely learned behaviours.
The human vocabulary with millions of words is adequate to explain all of our expectations and experiences, even those which are imagined. Why not harness the power of language to discover new products and services? Author Shanta R Yapa shares the Innovation Tautogram technique, which can be used as an individual or a group exercise.
Design Thinking—a powerful methodology principally used in product design—is now influencing corporate culture, allowing everyone to be part of the creative process. Companies today are moving beyond simple brand and product design and are developing a strategic process to work more effectively and improve the customer experience. But how does this democratization of design principals within an organization effect the role and responsibilities of the designer? How does it change the way companies are thinking about design? In this clip from InnoView, Lee Fain (Design & Innovation at Electrolux) and Anthony Ferrier (CEO, Culturevate) discuss how design is changing in a corporate context.
Let me see if this situation sounds familiar: you’ve promised your boss that you’ll generate at least one percent growth over last year. You’ve been racking your brain with ideas about how to improve your product or develop a new offering or finding new efficiencies which will help your margins, but the few ideas that you’ve come up with haven’t had legs and pages keep coming off the calendar.
In a study of 5,000 adults in the US, UK, Germany, France, and Japan conducted by Adobe about creativity, they came up with some interesting findings. To begin with, they asked every participant if they felt creativity was valuable to society and two-thirds of the respondents said “yes.” Perhaps even more significantly, 80% of them felt that unlocking creativity was critical to economic growth.
Creativity as a concept remains hard to pin down. Many view the ability to find creative solutions as the pinnacle of creative leadership. Artists, designers, visionaries and thought leaders are all admired for the power of their ideas, i.e. for their creativity. Creativity is a well-researched topic, covered in many popular science and business economics books. Yet we continue to struggle with the mystique created around the topic, and the intimidating notion that this is a territory reserved for the so-called “Creatives”.
Everyone likes to feel appreciated at work. In fact, studies have shown that employees are motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work. For most employers, showing appreciation might mean promotions and pay raises, but those opportunities don’t come along as often as we’d like to think.
We are taught to think that all great minds think alike. While this may have worked during pre-twenty first century industrial times, this is no longer the case today. We need creative and diverse minds that can navigate through the chaos, uncertainty, and adventure of our present-day society —each individual contributing in their own unique way.
When Airbnb opened its first call center in December 2014, it was featured on headlines everywhere: finally, a call center that was not a hell to work at. “Picture a call center: rows and rows of gray cubicles, everyone donning headsets, sitting at their beige desks for hours on end […] Our landing spots work a little like cubbies for kindergarteners.” To create a happy, collaborative environment, Airbnb staffers were included in the design of the workplace, translating to shared desks, couches, and lots of use of natural materials and lightning —all fun and play.