Friday, January 13, 2012

More Eyeballs for Dessert, Please!

We have recently covered innovation in two separate posts.
In “More Eyeballs, Please!” we looked at the topic from the point of view of number of tasks we could take immediately with minimal organizational distraction.
In “May I Have a Framework for My Eyeballs, Please?” we examined innovation from the point of view of some major strategy consulting firms.
This third post in the trilogy looks at developing new ideas and innovation from a methodological perspective.
This is an acronym for a series of questions designed to create new perspectives. It stands for:
·       Substitute – can we substitute one thing for another? Bran flakes for corn flakes? Plastic for Steel?
·       Combine – can we combine items? Raisins with cereal flakes? An iTunes store with a music device?
·       Adapt – can we use something already in existence in a new way? Duct tape the rear-view mirror? Retail store model to sell our product?
·       Modify (or Magnify, or Minify) – can we make something bigger or smaller? Can we make this phone’s touch screen bigger and call it a tablet?
·       Put to Other Uses – can we put this to another use? Use the stapler as a hammer?
·       Eliminate  - is there something we can eliminate? Can we eliminate the game controller? Can we eliminate a separate keyboard?
·       Rearrange (or Reverse) - what if things were in a different order?
Further Resources Links for SCAMPER:
Four More
If I were to cover all the other types in as much depth as SCAMPER, we would be here all day, so I am going to provide a brief description of some others along with a link to a further resource (usually the Asian Development Bank - great depth of articles in their Knowledge Center!) with more information and a listing of further resources:
Appreciative Inquiry – this process attempts to rely on theories such as positive thinking and the aspirational nature of people in order to bring more of these elements into the organization.
The Reframing Matrix – this term is used to describe looking at a question from different perspectives. A corporation might look at an issue from customers, employees, and shareholders point of view. Internally, one could look at a question from different functions viewpoints – what would marketing’s approach be? Operations? R&D? Sales? Finance? HR?
Thinking Hats – this technique uses different styles of thinking to generate different perspectives on a question or problem. Each style of thinking uses a color, so if we want to think about “just the facts” we would put on our White thinking hat.
Fishbones - the Fishbone diagram is a staple of Six Sigma methodologies. The focus for this tool generally centers around a process or event we wish to ascertain a root cause for, but there is nothing stopping us from using it for innovation rather than problem solving. The “bones” can be 6M’s, 5S’s, or 8P’s.
Get in the Spirit
Considering these different techniques can lead someone to get very confused and overwhelmed. What is the best method if we want to innovate a process? What about a new product? A service?
My belief is that any of these innovation methods will do a good job of identifying ideas (that’s why they are in this blog post and not on ‘the cutting room floor’).
What is more important is that a group of people who are motivated and interested in doing it are present.
I was once in a SCAMPER session that was part of a project where nobody was motivated to change from the status quo. There were maybe three ideas, and they were all lame.
I was in a Fishbone session once with a group and we had great fun with the technique and with each other, and came up with several ideas that could be put to use immediately or warranted further pursuit.
Key Takeaways
There are many models available that can assist a motivated team to innovate and create new ways of performing our work, the key word being “motivated team”.
·         What has been your experience in using any of these idea generation techniques?
·         Are you motivated to change your work processes and/or your organization’s products or services?
Add to the discussion with your thoughts, comments, questions and feedback! Please share Treasury Café with others. Thank you!

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