"If you want to think outside of the box, you should not put brains in a box," states SolutionPeople's Gerald Haman, who first created their Chicago innovation center in 1992. Since then, over 10,000 people have experienced the "unbox-like" Thinkubator in Chicago's west loop. Guests are encouraged to share feedback and rate their favorite resources. Here are 8 of people's most memorable Thinkubator experiences: 1. Oxygenate-to-Invigorate: Relaxing while breathing pure oxygen at the Oxygen Bar 2. Karaoke-ate-to-Collaborate: Singing from a collection of thousands of Karaoke tunes 3. DISCOvate-to-Celebrate: Celebrating results while dancing with real the Disco lights turned on 4. Blue Sky Brainstorming while inspired by the Thinkubator's skyline views and rooftop decks 5. Exploring the Albert Einstein and John Travolta-themed areas 6. Sitting on the thought-provoking furniture and art from world-famous designers 7. Playing with the creative brain games and gadgets 8. Tasting the fine cuisine from the award-winning restaurants within walking distance of the Thinkubator Use these links to take a virtual Thinkubator Tour and review partial list of Thinkubator Resources. If you want to learn how to design your own innovation center or creative space, enroll in a Decorate-to-Innovate webinar or schedule a team planning facilitation at the Thinkubator.
SolutionPeople has helped over 60% of BusinessWeek's Most Innovative Companies in the World be more innovative by helping their people find solutions to their questions about innovation challenges. Below are 8 of the most thought-provoking questions that were collected from SolutionPeople customer's during innovation meetings, workshops and facilitations.
"8 Great Innovation Questions" Most Frequently Asked by SolutionPeople's Customers 1. How can we innovate to achieve goals, overcome challenges and solve problems? 2. How can we learn and improve innovative and creative thinking skills? 3. How can we apply new or proven tools, software and techniques that stimulate innovation and creativity? 4. How can we find and collaborate with more innovative people? 5. How can we inspire more innovation and fun? 6. How can we design environments and spaces that inspire innovation? 7. How can we implement proven innovation models, systems and processes? 8. How can we plan, launch and manage innovation initiatives and programs?
Download a pdf of your FREE color poster of the 8 Great Questions by clicking HERE. Take the 8x11 inch poster to your next meeting to stimulate some very provocative innovation conversations. SolutionPeople's favorite question… How might we help you?
Since SolutionPeople is frequently asked the Great 8 Questions, we have some answers! Send an email for innovation help or answers to the questions by clicking HERE.
Internet marketing experts Leland Harden and Bob Heyman authored, Digital Engagement, to help people understand how internet marketing can capture customers and build brand loyalty. The book contains a superb 2-page "Digital Engagement Scorecard" that is ideal for identifying innovative growth opportunities by leveraging the internet.
Harden offered the following 20 questions to get started on the path towards better digital engagement.
20 Questions to Increase Digital Engagement 1. What is digital engagement? 2. Is your site instrumented for measurement, and which web analytics tools should you consider? 3. What metrics should you be watching? What should you be measuring? 4. How can you protect all relevant domain names? 5. How can you aggressively protect your brand on search engines? 6. Should you be using more than just Google in your search program? 7. What is entailed in doing effective search engine optimization? 8. What are the best ways to use blogs, wikis, RSS, podcasts or webinars to reach customers? 9. What should you consider when you set up a corporate blogging initiative? 10. How do you identify and recruit important influencers of your customer base? 11. How can you empower your customers to be effective word of mouth/word of web marketers for you? 12. How can you incorporate best practices of web video on your site? 13. How can you make a video go viral? 14. How can you make sure your web videos help your search engine rankings? 15. How can you make your online advertising more effective? 16. How can you easily gain incredible competitive intelligence on the web? 17. How you can use social networks to reach customers? 18. How should I utilize virtual worlds in my marketing initiatives? 19. What questions should I consider for the mobile web? 20. What are some of the best practices being utilized by companies using Web 2.0 tools?
A few years ago, we were asked by a regional coffee roaster to redefine the coffee experience for fine dining. We knew that Americans drank coffee after dinner for functional purposes (to wake/sober up), but we wanted to understand how we could create a more emotional experience. We grabbed our notepads, went into the field, drank a lot of coffee, studied coffee rituals from different cultures and ultimately crafted a compelling coffee experience that could have resurrected the after dinner coffee ritual in America. The client loved it, but never brought it to market. Why?
It used to be that you could invent a widget, patent it and dominate a market. Today that's becoming more and more difficult due to the mass-commoditization of products. From Microsoft to BP, companies that have traditionally won with product and business innovations are trying to create value by delivering better consumer experiences--integrated product and service experiences that attract and engage consumers and extend that relationship over time. These companies know that winning in the future means managing a portfolio of innovation that includes business, technology and consumer experience. They aspire to deliver experiences as compelling as Apple and Whole Foods, but few have the culture it takes to deliver these types of experiences.
Like our coffee roasters, many companies are attracted to the concept of consumer experience, but are hampered by the very cultures that made them great at delivering product and business innovations. They are often looking for the next "silver bullet"--a single product or service that they can roll out--and struggle with the idea that great experiences can be a collection of seemingly ordinary things. Their organizational structures have evolved into functional silos that are efficient at bringing new products and services to market, but not effective at delivering deep, rich experiences across multiple touch points. Consensus-based decision-making prevents them from creating strong stories that are necessary to create real value. The result is an overemphasis on what (offering) they are delivering not the why (promise) and how (delivery) it is delivered.
To read the full article by Steve McCallion in Fast Company, click HERE.
Call it innovation on steroids. Or innovation at warp speed. Or just the innovation of rapid innovation. But the essential point remains: Technology is transforming innovation at its core, allowing companies to test new ideas at speeds—and prices—that were unimaginable even a decade ago. They can stick features on Web sites and tell within hours how customers respond. They can see results from in-store promotions, or efforts to boost process productivity, almost as quickly. The result? Innovation initiatives that used to take months and megabucks to coordinate and launch can often be started in seconds for cents. And that makes innovation, the lifeblood of growth, more efficient and cheaper. Companies are able to get a much better idea of how their customers behave and what they want. This gives new offerings and marketing efforts a better shot at success.
Companies will also be willing to try new things, because the price of failure is so much lower. That will bring big changes for corporate culture—making it easier to challenge accepted wisdom, for instance, and forcing managers to give more employees a say in the innovation process. There will be even better payoffs for customers: Their likes and dislikes will have much more impact on companies' decisions. In globally competitive markets, they will ultimately end up getting products and services better tailored to their needs. Already, this powerful new capability is changing the way some of the biggest companies in the world do business, inspiring new strategies and revolutionizing the research-and-development process "In the U.S., we do the vast majority of our concept testing online, which has created truly substantial savings in money and time," says Joan Lewis, global consumer and market knowledge officer at Procter & Gamble Co. Continue reading the complete Wall Street Journal article by clicking HERE.
Gerald Haman devoted about 20 years to fine tune and perfect just SEVEN questions. Indeed that’s a long time, but innovators discovered the questions keep getting better.
Customers named the 7 questions, “Haman’s Investigator Questions” or HIQ. HIQ became famous as innovators have used the questions to generate thousands of ideas. Adidas used Haman’s Questions to develop award-winning sport shoes. Valvoline used Haman’s Investigator Questions to create breakthrough automotive products. AT&T used HIQ to better understand customers and tailor product offerings. Microsoft used HIQ to plan a successful conference for thousands of people.
While studying instructional design in graduate school at the University of Minnesota, Haman realized that one of the most important questions, instructional designers should ask was: “What should people know, and when do they need to know it?” That single question evolved into 7 questions as Haman helped customers apply the original instructional design question to designing innovative products, services and experiences.
Haman’s Instructional Design Question (1990 Original): What should people KNOW, and WHEN do they need to know it?
1. What should people BE? 2. What should people KNOW? 3. What should people FEEL? 4. What should people HAVE? 5. What should people DO? 6. What should people THINK? 7. What should people SENSE?
Over the years the questions and their order have changed and evolved as innovators realized the questions could be used by nearly anyone for almost any goal, challenge or problem. Most people start out by asking a few traditional questions such as “What’s your goal? or What are the problems?” However those questions may not provoke people to think deeply or broad enough. Go ahead and experiment by using Haman’s Innovative Investigator Questions for your next meeting, interview or survey.
For owners of Haman’s KnowBrainer Innovation Tool, the questions will look familiar as they are included in the Investigate Stage of the tool.
A recent article in Business Week challenges the conventional wisdom that, outside of a few high-profile exceptions, innovation, particularly in the U.S., has failed to meet expectations.
It cites an array of technological breakthroughs from the late 1990’s across a variety of industries that have failed to be successfully commercialized. Some breakthroughs have been eclipsed by time. But most were simply more difficult to realize than anyone ever expected.
The article reminded me of some other recent bellwether signs questioning the state of innovation. The Boston Consulting Group, in their annual Innovation Report noted that investment in R&D is down 14% among the companies it surveyed.
Bruce Nussbaum, Business Week’s innovation and design expert cites the same report and bemoans the fact that the same companies keep appearing on these lists. It’s a big universe out there, where are the new comers, he wonders?
Finally, in the largest and most comprehensive global index of its kind, the U.S. ranked eighth in innovation leadership among 110 countries, according to a new report produced by The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). Which country topped the list? Singapore. Bet that rolled off your tongue easily. Read the report and review the complete list by clicking HERE.
While some of this makes for good headlines, I’m not buying it. First of all, a few select numbers don’t make a trend. There’s no consensus when it comes to innovation indicators. A growing number of experts argue that patent filings, an often-cited innovation statistic which is actually down 16% so far this year are actually a contra-indicator of innovation as good ideas spawn better ideas and patents remove some of the best ideas from the field of play – severely limiting the ability to stimulate more even greater innovations. I’m a big IP proponent but there’s got to be a better way to protect true IP without stifling organic innovation.
Secondly, innovation is like evolution. Sometimes it crawls, sometimes it takes flight, but it never just sits there like an amorphous blob. Like evolution, innovation is also cyclical. We’ve seen spurts such as the Industrial Revolution during the second half of the 19th century (railroads, electricity, telegraph) and the early-mid 20th century (radio, television, flight, automobiles) both of which led to tremendous societal change. In between has been (relative) calm.
Most importantly, as evolutionary creatures, we’re simply driven to innovate. It’s in our cultural DNA in the U.S. and is increasingly part of other culture’s DNA. This innate urge – this indomitable human spirit - is what powers us forever forward.
Where does that leave us now?
I believe we’re entering a new era of innovation. One defined more by microbursts of activity that will happen more regularly and perhaps be more sustainable over longer periods of time.
We’ll still see the increasingly rare BIG idea, but as the global population expands and technology democratizes knowledge and information, we’re more likely to see greater numbers of innovators tackling the BIG challenges of our times like health, poverty, energy, etc.
SolutionPeople has helped innovators generate over 3 million ideas. What is one of the secrets to their successful ideations that lead to innovation? One secret is their proprietary Questionation™ Method that includes developing provocative questions to be used in innovative facilitations, training workshops, meetings and innovation events. Surveys have found that Questionation™ Methods have increased meeting productivity, reduced meeting time and increased participant engagement. Most importantly, innovation facilitations that used Question Banks and the Questionation Methods yielded 34-65% more ideas than traditional meetings that followed typical agendas.
Question Banks & Topics Questionation involved developing unique "Question Banks" for a wide variety of innovation goals, problems or challenges. Agendas and facilitation plans are structured in a way so that key questions are addressed throughout the meeting or event. Answers to questions are collected and deposited in Idea Banks that are used for follow-through and implementation.
Over 10,000 questions have been collected or created by SolutionPeople since 1989. SolutionPeople created question banks for over 100 topics including new product development, sales, marketing, experience design, meeting planning and strategic planning. Haman teaches facilitators, trainers and coaches how to apply the Questionation method during workshops and webinars.
Why Are Questions Important? "If you want to come up with great ideas, you need to ask great questions," states Gerald "Solutionman" Haman who invented the "questionated" innovation tool called the KnowBrainer. The KnowBrainer contains 40 provocative questions that actually help users generate more questions, as well as lots of ideas!
Record-Setting Thinkathon Used 100 Questions A future Innovator's Digest article will reveal how Solutionman set several world brainstorming records by using the Questionation Method and KnowBrainer tool. Over 454,000 ideas were brainstormed by 8,000 people who used 100 questions in SolutionPeople's Thinkathon at the Singapore Stadium.