… started with an ideation culture.

We were once commissioned with the task of translating “Innovate Like Edison” and then asked to present it to the Product Development Management Association (PDMA). We found it to be an interesting task and took it on with all the fervor of anything that enters our Capsule.

The concepts we chose to cover included: Ideation, fluid intelligence, handling ambiguity, discerning patterns and contrarianism. Within each of these we applied values we found important to our innovation efforts and relevant to the concept.

 

By Sarah Miller Caldicott + Michael Gelb

While this isn’t the venue to provide a deep description of each, it does offer a place where a couple can be covered with each post. So, we’ll start with a couple of the values from IDEATION.

Ideation
1. Everyone can be creative, yes even accountants and lawyers.
2. Visual isn’t just for artists, we can all use some visual in our diet.
3. Like what? Using metaphor-this and simile-that to help everyone get it.
4. Physical things make the intangible, tangible as quickly as possible.
5. Disciplines v capacities, inspire me and give me direction, please.

Everyone can be creative:

Many cultures have given creativity an iconic character and the US character typically has at least one tattoo, perhaps some cool piercings and plenty of suspicious “historical” drug use. We would like to debunk this misperception here. Creative people come in all forms of clothing, body art [or not] and don’t have to look the part to be creative. In fact, I have found some of the least creative people are actually just trying to play the “role” of creative without anything “there, there.”

The “Creative” Financial Guys.

For further explanation, how many people do you know who would say they know a creative accountant or financial professional? Now, look back on the Enron fraud and dig deep into how the financial individuals structured that criminal act. You’ll find it was incredibly creative. Now, this may be why no one knows a creative accountant, because they all end up serving time, but the point is still there. Creativity crosses all disciplines, including accounting and financial. Sometimes to our collective detriment.

So, the next time you’re forming a team of “creative” people, don’t skip accounting in your sweep. You might just find you get what you need from unexpected places.

Physical things:

Our modern culture has become very intangible. We have more physical things, but we also have more intangible elements of our lives. We can own land in a virtual world, “Second Life”, and expect an exchange of virtual or real currency for its sale. While this is amazing, we are still physical human beings and it helps to get physical with our ideation. We encourage sketching / scribbling / drawing out ideas, whenever possible. Not because we are artists and should be using pencils, but because getting someone to see an intangible idea in the light you see it often requires an act of making it tangible.

This is common practice in design firms, ad agencies and perhaps other entities “paid to be creative.” We encourage it with everyone. Here’s a simple thought exercise with the word “innovation.” Imagine asking 100 people to draw a picture of what they think that word means. How many different interpretations would you get? My guess is 111, because some bloke will give extra answers.

Now, the next time someone in an “ideation” session says out loud to the group, this has to be “innovative.” Stop and ask the room to draw what that means to them individually. You’ll find more sketching to show ideas in your next ideation session.

That’s two of the five. Ask us about the other three.

 

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