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15 clever thinking tools to create winning ideas quickly

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Businesses of all sizes use brainstorming to identify new growth opportunities - but it's a process from the 1950s! You need a new way of thinking - learn how to become The Idea Generator in your business.

Published in: Leadership & Management
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15 clever thinking tools to create winning ideas quickly

  1. 1. By Chris Thomason 15 clever thinking tools to create winning ideas quickly
  2. 2. If you want to:  Understand why the thinking in your business today is out-dated and inefficient  Learn some simple techniques to think more effectively as an individual and as a team  Discover ways to ask questions that puts more focus on the question rather than the answer  Get access to some FREE thinking tool templates* to guide your thinking to higher and more creative levels * The link to download these FREE templates can be found later in this slide-deck. What you’ll get from this slide deck… then read on…
  3. 3. In 1953, advertising executive Alex Osborn’s book Applied Imagination birthed brainstorming... Where did brainstorming originate? It was a cutting-edge concept at the time and thrived alongside accounting’s hand-cranked adding- machine and marketing’s action-list written in chalk on the blackboard in the director’s office.
  4. 4. In 2012, Keith Sawyer, a psychologist from Washington University summarized the findings on brainstorming… And its effectiveness? The earliest investigations into the effectiveness of brainstorming happened at Yale University in 1958 – just five years after the process was developed. The surprising findings were that 48 solo-participants had roughly twice as many ideas as 48 participants formed into brainstorming groups. A panel of judges also regarded the individuals’ ideas to be more feasible and effective than those from the groups. “Decades of research have consistently shown that brainstorming groups think of far fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone and later pool their ideas.” But why is this?
  5. 5. Why is the business world’s favourite thinking tool letting us down? Consider some of the traditional guidelines for brainstorming… There are more reasons too why brainstorming and other conventional approaches to thinking aren’t working for today’s business. Read more on this by downloading the free chapter Why today’s thinking is so outdated from The Idea Generator book here. Surprisingly, all these guidelines work contrary to the requirements for powerful thinking in the business environment. Because we don’t think as a group – we think as individuals.
  6. 6. It’s time to change the way we think in business… In 2018 brainstorming will be 65 years-old. It’s time to retire it early – right now! It’s time for you to become The Idea Generator – to deliver a new thinking approach in your business. …but today, our need for business growth demands something better. A more aggressive, focused, and stimulating approach that will help your business to out- think your competition. Brainstorming encourages passive thinking – a peaceful, wait-your- turn, unbounded type of thinking. Because business needs a twenty-first century approach to thinking…
  7. 7. The problem with being an expert The educationalist and creative expert Sir Ken Robinson summed this up by saying “In our culture, not to know is to be at fault, socially.” As an expert in your field, you always need to be seen to know the answers – but in doing so you tend to repeat, recycle and upcycle things that you’ve done before, and that you know will work. Because that’s what experts do. You don’t change a successful strategy! We shield ourselves from exploration However, to be innovative we have to do something new – and that’s to go beyond the realms of our existing knowledge and to find some new things – things that are unknown. And this is worrisome for an expert because it’s intended to highlight the things that we don’t know. As an expert in your field, you need to be seen to know the answers – but in doing so you tend to repeat, recycle and upcycle things that you’ve done before, and that you know will work. Because that’s what experts do.
  8. 8. Be an explorer – not an expert Whereas the expert looks to find the answer quickly, the explorer keeps looking for answers. But only if you continue looking creatively... For when you find one good answer, there’s probably more not far behind.
  9. 9. To identify big and bold opportunities, a business needs to be asking big and bold questions – or Killer Questions. They’re the sort of questions that experts and many leaders are fearful of asking because the immediate response to a “How do we achieve (this goal)” Killer Question are possibly the three most feared words in the business lexicon: Killer Questions I don’t know! Ask Killer Questions
  10. 10. Killer Questions break new ground with their answers, and we shouldn’t fear asking this type of question. They help us align our thinking in a new, specific and desirable direction. Killer Questions These Killer Questions also help us to find our Querencia...
  11. 11. Finding Querencia Querencia is a Spanish word from the bull-fighting world. Its closest translation into English is the place of safety that the bull retreats to before launching its final charge. The place from which there is only one direction to go – and that’s forward.
  12. 12. But why use pen & paper templates? That’s why. Does this make sense to you?
  13. 13. Here’s an example template from one of the tools The benefits of using templated tools: • Structured approaches to lead you through a defined and proven thinking process • A4 in size, so suitable to print out at home for a personal issue or at work for a business issue – whatever size your company is • Acts as a repository for your ideas by keeping them all in one place • Allows you to adapt the tool to suit your specific issue • Defines the areas you want to consider through your Killer Question • Convenient to use anywhere, any time. Rather than waste your time and your mind exploring irrelevant areas, the templates help guide you on a series of thinking paths that have the greatest potential to answer your Killer Question. These templates create frameworks and put structure to your creativity.
  14. 14. There are three templates to download and each contains five unique tools to address a different type of business issue: The thinking templates Divide and Conquer addresses a difficult issue or an issue that has been scrutinised previously but without any meaningful success, and where some new ideas are needed. This toolset helps to leapfrog over the areas that have (most likely) already been covered to identify new areas that have potential for success. Boundary Riding helps you to identify ways to organically grow your business in the short to medium timeframes. To achieve this, the toolset assumes that you will not be looking for radically new areas and instead focuses on identifying opportunities that are adjacent to what you do now. Islands of Opportunity identifies fresh opportunities and solutions for a new or existing issue that is being tackled for the first time. It’s appropriate for most issues where there is a need to identify a wide range of possible answers to the Killer Question before selecting one ideal path forward.
  15. 15. Tool 5: The Magnifying Matrix This helps you to focus closely on specific combinations of aspects of your issue that you may not have previously considered or been aware of. Tool 4: DARPEC An approach to help you understand how every interaction has six generic aspects and to force you to de-construct the issue you are facing and focus on each of these aspects individually. Tool 3: Rapid Thinking A technique that drives you to think quickly and capture lots of ideas around an issue to prevent you filtering and rejecting ideas due to the personal internal thinking style you usually apply. Tool 2: Abstract. Move. Steal! Rather than create something totally new from scratch, it’s easier and quicker to take something that’s already complete and that is proven to work in another area – and then steal it to use as a solution to your issue. Tool 1: Unconventional Perspectives Considering an issue differently can be a difficult task to achieve, so this tool forces you to adopt a number of unusual viewpoints that may not have been applied before. The Islands of Opportunity toolset Tools 1-5 form the Islands of Opportunity toolset: Download The free template for these tools here
  16. 16. The marketing department: How can we include items in our marketing interactions with customers that would trigger them to talk positively about our ABC product (or us) on social media and so boost the levels of word-of-mouth advocacy? Public services head of human resources: We are commencing with a major new transformation process shortly, so how can we creatively engage people in the process so they see it as a benefit for them rather than a drain on their time? A small business owner: What are some innovative things we can do as a business that will make us more appealing to be acquired by a larger company within three years? Islands of Opportunity Killer Questions Some typical examples of great Killer Questions that this toolset can help you answer are… What challenging Killer Questions need to be asked in your business?
  17. 17. Tool 6: All Change Please! Frequently our thinking is caged by a set of beliefs or assumptions that we believe to be fixed. This tool helps to question the core assumptions being made around a selected challenging area. Tool 7: Different People. Different Worlds. Looking at how another established industry that is significantly different to yours considers the issue you have, to help you break your patterns of thinking. Tool 8: Three-Word Sentence A technique that forces you to re-state the core-essence of the issue and then to modify this expression in different ways. Tool 9: Your Alter Ego Applying some deeply-personal perspectives through your alter ego – which is defined as your second self, or a personality which is distinct and different from your normal personality. Tool 10: Black and White Thinking It may intuitively feel right that the ‘middle ground’ is where the optimum solutions exist, but sometimes the middle ground is just a wasteland of mediocrity. This tool helps you to deconstruct an issue into some core components and then to re-build it into a more- relevant and focused solution. The Divide and Conquer toolset Tools 6-10 form the Divide and Conquer toolset: Download The free template for these tools here
  18. 18. A book publishing company: How can we re-purpose the huge collection of titles that we own to create additional revenues without committing to major expenditure? A membership based organisation: How can we get a 33% uplift in new members this year by repositioning the value we offer and the benefits of being a member? A high street retail business: What are some bold moves we can make to counteract the decline in our sales and footfall due to the trend towards online shopping over the next 12-months? Divide and Conquer Killer Questions Some typical examples of great Killer Questions that this toolset can help you answer are… What difficult (but opportune) areas could be re-considered in your business?
  19. 19. Tool 11: Cracks In The Pavement Sometimes you can be too close to an issue to notice some interesting aspects of it. This tool helps you to look inside the business at the existing activities to creatively identify some minor changes that can deliver significant additional benefits. Tool 13: The Do-It-Yourself Business If your company formed a number of new, stand-alone business units, each focused around delivering one specific product or service, how might things be done differently? Tool 14: The Quirky Equation A structured approach to bring four elements of a business engagement together in an unusual equation to form a new and enhanced over-arching proposition for your customers. Tool 15: Beyond the Edge Exploring the boundaries of where your business relationship with the customers stops and another business takes it over – to examine what opportunities exist there. Tool 12: Four Customer Lenses Pushing the boundaries of your engagement with a specific type of customer in new ways and at deeper levels by focusing on it from the customer’s perspective. The Boundary Riding toolset Tools 11-15 form the Boundary Riding toolset: Download The free template for these tools here
  20. 20. A telecommunications company: What are some ways we can extend our home based services such that they have intrinsic appeal to the retired consumers where we have very low penetration? A product head: What are some relatively small changes we can make to our ABC product that will enable us to boost revenues significantly in the current financial year? A customer retention manager: How do we reduce our 19% annual churn rate to below 10% by applying innovative thinking to the big issues that our company and our industry face? Boundary Riding Killer Questions Some typical examples of great Killer Questions that this toolset can help you answer are… Which areas of your business would love to get additional short- term growth simply by asking a great Killer Question?
  21. 21. Killer Questions… The only way you’ll ever get to answer a Killer Question is to ask one – so what’s yours?
  22. 22. Becoming The Idea Generator When you become The Idea Generator, you’ve developed a new personal skill – an effective approach to thinking differently in the business environment. Isn’t this a skill that your business will need and value? The Idea Generator is three things. It’s a book you read It’s a process you adopt, and It’s the person you become. “Insightful and practical, this book will provide you with fantastic advice on how to generate better ideas in your business.” Oded Ran, Chief Executive Officer, Touchnote Praise for The Idea Generator “For a new and pragmatic approach to business growth, The Idea Generator is the book you need.” Steve Weston, former CEO of Mortgages, Barclays Bank “Chris Thomason shows you how to ask ‘killer questions’ and produce game-changing ideas. ‘The Idea Generator’ is smart, original, and highly useful.” Warren Berger, best-selling author of “A More Beautiful Question
  23. 23. About the book Table of contents Chapter 1 Getting your mind around an issue Chapter 2 Why today’s thinking is so out-dated Chapter 3 A new way of business thinking Chapter 4 The Idea Generator mindset Chapter 5 Using the tools Chapter 6 Islands of Opportunity (Thinking tools 1 – 5) Chapter 7 Divide and Conquer (Thinking tools 6 – 10) Chapter 8 Boundary Riding (Thinking tools 11 – 15) Chapter 9 Using The Idea Generator in teams Chapter 10 Unleashing the corporate creativity Your FREE thinking templates can be downloaded from: www.TheIdeaGenerator.info More praise for The Idea Generator “The Idea Generator is not just a set of tools but a way of thinking to help me design tomorrow in a practical, easy to digest way.” Rob Millar, Managing Director, Comotion Consulting Ltd “Trigger the innovative side of your brain with the most comprehensive and powerful guide on the market.” Alejandro Maroto, Head of Innovation and New Business Services, Telefonica Business Solutions “Powerful, no-nonsense, business thinking tools.” Stuart Mitchell, Group CEO, SIG plc

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