Warning; the future is always closer
than it appears
Why creativity is important
Globalisation and shorter product life cycles mean the old ways of doing
business are no longer relevant. Innovation is vital for companies to stay
ahead of competition and – in many cases – to stay in business.
The race is on to develop a new product or service that brings superior
value to the customer. If you come up with a really innovative solution that
leapfrogs the competition, chances are you will be more successful.
Creativity plays a vital role in this process.
This paper is a practical approach to being more
creative. It is not a comprehensive guide, but is
intended as an introduction to a process and some
tools that you can use to:-
• brainstorm ideas
• push the boundaries of your thinking
• help create a stronger team
Plan before you start
The human mind is incredibly efficient. Given a problem, it immediately
gets thinking about how to solve the problem without considering:-
• Am I working on the right problem?
• And is this the best solution?
Better to explore the situation to understand:-
• Who are the stakeholders? What would success look like for them?
• What is the root of the issue, the technical problem, the unmet
need, the identified gap?
• What resources do I have at my disposal to help solve the
Time spent planning at this stage is never wasted, and can often save
significant time and money overall.
Frame the problem – situation analysis
Who is the customer? (Your immediate customer, and their
successive customers until you reach the end user)
Who are the other stakeholders (use the 9 Cs tool). What are
their expectations and requirements?
What is their need/ goal/ challenge/ problem?
What do people dislike about the current solution/ products/
What do people like about the current solution/ products/
In what way is current solution ineffective?
Ideal Final Result
Most innovation is incremental, and while small improvements certainly
have their place, it is always worth extending the vision to identify what
the ultimate result might be. This final result might not be technically or
financially feasible, but it gives you a vision to aim for.
So when you are seeking new solutions, rather than using the current
design as a starting point, come up with a vision for the Ideal Final Result
and work back from there to a realistic option. This is also a useful activity
when you are considering Intellectual Property (IP), as you can include
concepts that will be future generations of the current model.
Don’t start here Start here
Ideal Final Result – questions to ask
What is the final aim of the product?
What is the IFR outcome?
What is stopping you achieving this?
Why is it stopping you achieving this?
How could you make this disappear?
Has anyone else solved this problem?
Another useful tool at this stage is to consider what resources you have to
hand that could be applied to your project.
Resources include the more obvious tangible resources, such as people
and equipment. But they also include intangible resources, such as useful
information or skills that your team or associates might have. A full list
appears on the next page.
Another step is to consider not just the current resources you have
available, but resources you had in the past that you could draw on again
(e.g. a retired employee), or that you tried and didn’t work (to save going
down that path again).
Finally, a useful exercise is to define your ‘system’. This might be the
team, the product, your organisation, whatever makes sense. Then
consider resources that are within your system, external to the system
and in the subsystem. Carry out this exercise for tangible and then
Substance – material (equipment, materials, software,
waste) within the system or system’s surrounding
People – within and around system
Financial - (budgets, grants, funding)
Information – tacit and explicit knowledge, Intellectual
Capital, other sources e.g. books, internet
Energy Resources – sources of energy available within the
system or system’s surrounding, which are not used fully
Space Resources – any unused space
Time Resources – any spare time slots in between, before
or after technological processes
Resources - examples
Harnessing the power of UV light to stimulate cell
activity in an anti-ageing skin care product
Targets for clay pigeon shooting made of compacted
Moulds for casting thermoplastic parts made in
useful shapes (alphabet letters) to reduce wastage
Snow in northern coal pit blown into pit to cool air,
dampen coal dust and reduce risk of explosions
Tangible Resources (people, materials, equipment)
PAST PRESENT FUTURE
Intangible Resources (information, energy, space, time)
PAST PRESENT FUTURE
Now you can start to come up with new ideas. The best way to get good
ideas is to expand your thinking, generate lots of ideas and then discard
the poor ones.
Use the rules of brainstorming:-
1. Defer criticism
At this stage there are no bad ideas; don’t be negative.
Judgement can come later.
2. Go for quantity
It’s simple maths – the more ideas, the greater the chance of a really good idea.
3. Go for wild ideas
The wild ideas can prove to be the most insightful. Remember the Ideal Final Result.
4. Build on ideas
What can you add to the idea? What other ideas come to mind? How can your
experience add to this?
Problem Solving Tool – Trends of Evolution
Based on the premise that:-
̶ All technical systems evolve in set patterns
̶ These patterns are the same across
̶ All trends work towards the ideal solution
̶ By understanding these patterns you can
shortcut the process for generation of new
How to use Trends of Evolution:-
1. Select the most relevant trends for your product/service
2. Identify where you are on the trend
3. Brainstorm for each of the trends to the right of where you are.
Adapted from TRIZ, www.triz-journal.com/
Trend of Mono-Bi-Poly
Razor with Razor with
aloe 2,3,4,5 blade hair clippers
Mono Bi Tri Poly
System System System System
̶ Mobile phones
̶ Toothbrushes with tongue cleaners
̶ Power tools with multiple attachments
̶ Yoghurts with separate toppings
Trend of Increasing Use of Senses
1 sense 2 senses 3 senses 4 senses 5 senses
Smell ̶ TV adverts with jingles and slogans
̶ Surround sound and sometimes motion and even
Hearing smells in cinemas
Taste ̶ Luxury cars – in addition to visual, the smell of new
leather, sound (of engine, doors, etc), the feel of
seats, steering wheel, etc
̶ Ambulance sirens with using flashing lights as well
Trend of Increasing Use of Colour
Binary Use of Full
Monochrome use of visible spectrum
spectrum (incl. UV,
̶ Warning systems
̶ Used to differentiate range of products
̶ Temperature sensitive paints
̶ Using IR to achieve heat-seeking capability
Trend of Space Segmentation
Solid Hollow Multiple Porous Porous
̶ Chocolate bars
̶ Soles of running/training shoes
̶ Double glazing
Trend of Surface Segmentation
Smooth Ribbed 3D Roughened
surface surface roughened with active
̶ Raised pavement to warn of obstacle
̶ Grips on handles, e.g. wheelbarrows
̶ Bioactive surface coatings
̶ Speed bumps on road
Trend of Increasing Asymmetry
Symmetrical Partial Matched
system asymmetry asymmetry
̶ Handles on jugs
̶ Long tail marketing
Trend of Controllability
Direct Addition Intelligent
control intermediary feedback feedback
̶ Robots, e.g. vacuum cleaners
̶ Speed signs in built-up areas
̶ Reversing signals on cars
̶ Auto focus cameras
Trend of Dynamisation
Immobile Fully Fluid or Field-
Jointed flexible pneumatic based
system system system system
̶ Folding products, e.g. umbrellas, tripods
̶ Window blinds
̶ Desk lamps
̶ Sound recording (tape to optical)
The greatest danger for most of us is not
that our aim is too high and we miss it,
but that it is too low and we reach it.