Think Cube Handbook


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This is the ThinkCube User Handbook/Guide. Walks you through how to use the ThinkCube.

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Think Cube Handbook

  1. 1. The Idea Handbook Copyright © 2006-2007 ThinkCube™ ThinkCube™ is licensed property of Metamemes, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Visit Us Online:
  2. 2. Table C of onte nts What is ThinkCube 01 Why ThinkCube 04 How to ThinkCubate 06 Group ThinkCubate 16 How ThinkCube was Innovated 19 The Future of ThinkCube 22 Suggested Reading 23
  3. 3. Fundamental The best ideas come at the intersection of domains and cultures. ThinkCube’s Idea Library is a collection of ideas, creative techniques, and words from eclectic sources. Fundamental Breakthrough ideas come from playing with existing ideas and forming new connections. ThinkCubation’s core mechanic is to combine ideas to form new ideas. What is ThinkCube? ThinkCube is the culmination of 10 years of research Fundamental Incubation is a powerful and important part of any innovation process. ThinkCube not only incorporates incubation, it turns the normally on creativity and the synthesis of the industry’s passive step into an active process. best tools, techniques, and processes. Here’s how ThinkCube delivers on the creativity fundamentals we found in our research: Fundamental Brainstorming is a skill to be practiced and perfected. ThinkCube helps you exercise your creative muscles individually or in a group. With all this said, there isn’t any one perfect way to innovate. There are as many ways to innovate as there are creative people. We don’t want you to toss away your other creative tools, but we hope ThinkCube will become your favorite. 01 02
  4. 4. Why ThinkCube? A convergence of business trends, specifically outsourcing, off-shoring and increased market competition, has created a new global economy where the demand for innovation is paramount. To succeed in this new Creative Economy, companies and individuals must make a paradigm shift. Many companies claim to nurture innovation, but few actually do it behind closed doors. Insincerity isn’t the problem, rather a misperception that innovation is an end goal achieved by occasional brainstorming sessions or a collection of PhDs and a stroke of luck. True innovation happens when it’s infused ThinkCube gives you throughout an organization and adopted as a best practice. the tools to pioneer Infusion of innovation shouldn’t hinge on a company mandate. It can organically emerge from the bottom-up the innovation revolution. through changes in individual behavior. ThinkCube gives you the tools to pioneer the innovation revolution! 04
  5. 5. How to ThinkCubate ThinkCubating can be done on your own or in a group. Individually it will lead to great ideas, but incorporating group ThinkCubating opens avenues for additional unique sources of input. Try it both ways for optimal output. If you’re ready to ThinkCubate on your own, this section will give you a detailed description of each step in the ThinkCubation process. Refer to the next section for group instructions. You’ll also find exciting tips along the way to make ThinkCube a highly personalized and powerful innovation tool! 05 06
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  7. 7. STIMULATE DEFINE Write down your goal for the session, but don’t cast it in stone. At the beginning of a ThinkCubating session, your goal may be quite broad. As you ThinkCubate, Randomly draw 6 cards from the Idea Library. This action starts you off with a collection of ideas from diverse fields and topics. Additionally, the Library contains a collection of the best creative techniques around. Incorporating these eclectic stimuli in your you will gain new perspectives and may want to refine your goal. The tighter THINKing increases the quantity of ideas you’ll generate and your your goal definition becomes, the easier it will be to create a solution. odds of creating a winner. You can enhance this step of the process by reading books and articles on a wide variety of topics and exposing yourself to new experiences, people and places. Record any cool ideas you come across on pages of your Idea Notepad. You might also decide to immerse yourself in a completely new domain. Immersion allows you to understand the context of a particular field and identify areas that spark an interest for you. Some of the most innovative ideas occur at the intersection of multiple domains. The world’s best scientists and innovators often excel in a broad range of intellectual fields. Again, record your favorite ideas on your Idea Notepad. Ideas you have recorded on your Idea Notepad can be placed in front of you for use during the THINK phase, or simply added to your Idea Library to personalize it. 09 10
  8. 8. EVALUATE Assess how well your new ideas relate to your goal. If you think you’ve created a winner, ELABORATE it. Move any good ideas to the elaboration phase as soon as you can. It’s hard to see the true potential of an idea until you have prototyped and tested it. THINK If your ideas need refining, INCUBATE them. Some ideas may not be fully formed yet. An idea might be a partial solution, leaving a few open issues or problems to solve. These are prime candidates for incubation. Combine 2 or more of the cards to create new ideas. Record all new ideas on If nothing’s happened yet, THINK again. Your ideas may have been your Idea Notepad. Remember, the quantity of ideas generated in this stage absolutely unrelated to your original goal. You might have drawn an odd increases your probability of creating quality ideas later. Don’t worry about sampling of cards from the Idea Library. Try again with a fresh hand of cards. whether the ideas you come up with are great, average, or wacky. All that Regardless of what you do with your ideas in this step, you should matters here is that you capture all of the ideas that you generate. reEVALUATE your original goal and see if it still makes sense. Tweak it if This action of combining cards, central to ThinkCubating, is a form of you want to, you didn’t cast it in stone. combinatory play. Albert Einstein once said, “Combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought.”¹ Long before Einstein discussed it, Gutenberg used combinatory play in practice, combining the ideas of a wine press, coin punch, and die stamps to invent the printing press.² 1 Hadamard, Jacques. The Mathematician’s Mind. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1945. 2 Watson, Peter. Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention, From Fire to Freud. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. 11 12
  9. 9. INCUBATE The incubation phase is arguably the most important in the ThinkCubation process. Day dream, doodle, go on with your life. Your subconscious mind keeps working on your ideas while you do other things. Refer back to the ELABORATE ideas in your Idea Notepad daily, weekly, or monthly and reEVALUATE. If you follow these instructions, you’re bound to be struck with what I affectionately call the “One Week Later Syndrome”. This started as an observation during play-testing for ThinkCube and turned into a consensus among my peers. It won’t take exactly 1 week, but the general principle is Make your new idea a reality! Prototype it: build it, write it, draw it, you’ll generate good ideas while THINKing, but your best ideas will come or design it. A prototype will allow you to test your idea and get real after you INCUBATE. The key is reEVALUATEing your ideas after your brain feedback before you invest too much time or money. Don’t be afraid to has had time to INCUBATE them. fail. If your results are less than satisfying, INCUBATE the problems you have yet to solve and reEVALUATE. If it was a real disaster, THINK again and be thankful for the lessons learned. Multiple iterations through ThinkCubation may be necessary before you’re ready to take it from a prototype to the real deal. Read about how other people in similar situations did it successfully. Make a plan for implementation and follow it. Take calculated risks and self-fund your initial implementation whenever possible. Don’t expect interest from investors until you demonstrate profitability. An idea is just an idea until you ELABORATE it! 13 14
  10. 10. Group ThinkCubating yields Group ThinkCubate its best results when each participant has had an opportunity to ThinkCubate individually on the session’s goal. If time does not allow, simply ask participants to think about the goal prior to the start of the session. The optimal size for a ThinkCubating group is 4-7 participants. With more than 7 participants, divide into multiple groups of 4-7. Use the individual ThinkCubating map as your guide and follow these modifications: 16
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  12. 12. The idea behind ThinkCube was Kes iterated through thinking, conceived in 1999 by self-proclaimed evaluating and incubating for years. idea addict, Kes Sampanthar. After It nearly drove his wife mad. He years of collecting ideas and longing eventually picked an idea and to share his passion with the world, elaborated it in the form of building an “Aha!” struck him while sitting on a prototype. “MetaMemes – Early a beach in Australia. By recording his Adoption Release” was self-published favorite ideas on small cards, he could in 2004. It was a game of ideas assemble an Idea Library to provide about ideas with a perceived market creative inspiration to others. of 20-30 something game playing How ThinkCube was Innovated geeks. “MetaMemes – Early Adoption Release” sold-out within a year, but largely to an unexpected market of Kes Sampanthar, Creator of ThinkCube But the Idea Library on its own wasn’t innovative professionals intending to enough. Kes needed a way to explain use it with a purpose! the complex internal creative process he was using on a daily basis. This With a new understanding of the defined his goal. For stimulation, he market and audience, MetaMemes turned to board games. He bought (the game) was refined to form and played as many board games as ThinkCube, a professional creativity his wallet would allow. It didn’t take tool. MetaMemes, LLC is based in long to see that a great board game a suburb of Boston, MA and is had more to do with a great mechanic managed by Sue Sampanthar, Kes’ than fancy pieces or a nifty theme. wife. For more information about Kes began to think of ways to combine MetaMemes, LLC or ThinkCube, check his Idea Library with game mechanics. out: 19 20
  13. 13. Build a social network of ThinkCubologists like yourself. The Future of ThinkCube The innovation revolution can’t happen without you. Take the next steps with us. Organize a ThinkCubating club to gather your coworkers over lunch or your friends at a coffee house. Build a social network of ThinkCubologists like yourself. Rise up from your cube and join the innovation revolution! ThinkCube is first in a series of products and services aimed at building innovative cultures. Watch for ThinkCube expansion packs in areas like nanotechnology, biotechnology, and management strategy. Email us at with your requests. Visit for resources, links, and the latest information on new products and services. 22
  14. 14. Suggested Reading During the creation of ThinkCube, I consulted a Copyright © 2007 by Kesavan Sampanthar. vast array of books on innovation. Here are a ThinkCube™ is licensed property of few of the best: MetaMemes, LLC. All Rights Reserved. How Breakthroughs Happen: The Surprising ThinkCube, the ThinkCube logo, MetaMemes, Truth About How Companies Innovate and the MetaMemes logo are trademarks of Author: Hargadon, Andrew. MetaMemes, LLC. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2003. Product and packaging design by XO Create! The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm Many of the designations used by manufacturers Authors: Kelley, Tom, Jonathan Littman. and sellers to distinguish their products are claimed New York: Doubleday, 2001. as trademarks. Where those designations appear in this product, and MetaMemes, LLC was aware of a The Medici Effect: Breakthrough Insights at the trademark claim, the designations have been printed in Intersection of Ideas, Concepts, and Cultures. caps or initial caps. Author: Johansson, Frans. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2004. While every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this product, the author assumes no responsibility for Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use Discovery and Invention. of the information used herein. Author: Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. New York: Harper Perennial, 1997. Manufactured in the United States of America. ISBN 978-0-9792050-0-2 23 24