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
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.
Breakthrough ideas come from playing with
existing ideas and forming new connections.
ThinkCubation’s core mechanic is to combine ideas to form
What is ThinkCube?
ThinkCube is the culmination of 10 years of research
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:
Brainstorming is a skill to be practiced
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Watson, Peter. Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention, From Fire to Freud. New York: HarperCollins, 2005.
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
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!
Group ThinkCubating yields
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:
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
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: www.metamemes.com.
Build a social network of
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 email@example.com with
Visit www.metamemes.com for resources,
links, and the latest information on
new products and services.