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Creativity at Work: Innovation Exercise – Broken & Brilliant

Questions for InnovatorsNow, that we’ve pondered, What is Innovation? in order to come up with a working definition (A New Idea, Creation, Offering or Process that Adds Value), it’s time to ask the big duh question:

How do you come up with that new idea, creation, offering or process that adds value?

While the answer will take you straight to the creative process itself (Sponge Work, In the Flow, Inspiration & Insight and Making it Real), the definition of innovation – the quality or attribute that makes innovation different from creativity – suggests that there might be tools and practices that work ESPECIALLY WELL in encouraging innovation specifically.

In other words, certain creativity tools and practices are inherently more adept at fostering “new + value” thinking.

While over the next few weeks we’ll cover lots of ways to spark and support innovation, we’ll first primarily zero on those tools that most naturally lead to innovation – starting with two practices that I call:

  • Broken & Brilliant (laying the groundwork for innovative thinking by identifying what’s missing)
  • Borrow & Balance (getting the idea ball rolling faster through new combinations and perspectives)

Broken & Brilliant

Because innovation includes the creation of additional value, a perfect place to start the process of innovating is to look
at the environment in which your idea will exist (at work/in your industry or
category/in your customers’ or audiences’ lives, etc.) and ask:

What’s Broken? What’s Brilliant?

What’s Broken? (You’ll notice there is a little repetition in the questions below – often even slightly changing the way you ask something
can shift the brain; help you see things from a different angle.)

Ask yourself – Related to my work, industry, category, product/service, creation, customer/audience – or whatever I’m working on:

What’s not working?

What’s not working as well as it could? What could be done better?

What customer or audience needs are not being met?

What are people not saying or doing?

Where are the hiccups, bumps or obstacles – no matter how big or small?

Where is there a gap or a glitch? What’s missing here?

What do I wish existed? What do my customers/audience wish existed?

What needs to change? Design? Smell? Touch? Feel? Taste? Texture? Timing? Style? Performance? Result?

How or where could this (look, smell, feel, go, be) better?

How could this get or be worse?

In finding the gaps, you can find the space to innovate.

What’s Brilliant? (Again, you’ll notice a little repetition.)

Ask yourself – Related to my work, industry, category, product/service, creation, customer/audience – or whatever I’m working on:

What’s perfect? What’s almost perfect?

What’s breakthrough? What’s about to or needs to break through?

What looks, smells, feels, etc., great?

Where is design, performance, style, touch, feel, taste, texture, timing, results top-notch?

What are people saying or doing that tells me this is brilliant?

What does this make me want more of? What does this make my customers/audience want more of?

What do I want my customers/audience to do/say more, or more often?

What do I love about this? What do my customers/audience love about this?

How could this get or be any better?

In finding the perfection, you find the space to innovate even further through the parts that aren’t quite yet as good as they could be.

In this way, the What’s Brilliant? questions offer a perspective shift that can help you find additional fodder for your What’s Broken? exploration.

Do you have your own What’s Broken? What’s Brilliant? questions that might help someone else find space to innovate? I hope you’ll share them in a comment to this post.

Next Time: The innovation tool Borrow & Balance

To seeing the what’s missing,

Susan B.