A formula for successful innovation

A formula for successful innovation 

The number of meaningfully unique ideas you can generate is directly influenced by:

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The number of stimulus you have to the exponent diversity divided by fear.

If you believe in this formula, it becomes clear why executives "brainstorming" in a boardroom is one of the worst possible ways to innovate. A blank whiteboard has no stimulus - nothing to get the mind going, and worst of all, execs are not a diverse group.

Next time you go to the whiteboard, take a few extra minutes and give this approach a try. The results (and the sheer number of ideas you get) will speak for themselves.

Increase your diversity.

Bring in a front-line employee from manufacturing, a sales guy, someone from accounting, and low-level supervisor, and now your group's diversity just magnified 5-fold. Diversify your team!

Add in some stimulus.

Write on the board different customer groups/segments, new technologies, types of animals... mix it up! The point is that stimulus trigger your mind to think about things in different ways. Compound this with the 5-6 different ways your diverse team will interpret the stimulus and how they relate to your business challenge, and all of a sudden, you have a recipe for success. Get a LOT of stimulus!

Drive out fear.

The second someone's idea gets criticized, the entire group puts on a filter and guards what they say. Remember that more ideas and thoughts = more stimulus. When you're "creating" (generating ideas), just talk. Don't worry about what is an idea and what is a stimulus until later. If that dog you wrote down on the board made you think of poop scooping, turn off your filter and say it. It is often the wackiest stimulus that result in the best, most unique ideas. Drive out fear!

If you do nothing else, remember this formula and try to move your process a little closer to it.

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