Have you ever faced that tough moment where you just couldn’t get the brain moving? Did you ever need inspiration to find that “next big idea?” We all struggle with this, whether we call it writer’s block, or the blahs, or even claim to have lost our muse. But there are ways we can get through this, and one of my favorites is to summon our inner “Super Hero.”
While I understand that innovation is more than simply creativity, creativity is the spark that tends to drive most innovations. So the challenge is how to ignite that spark. One way I use to encourage others is to ask them what super power they wish they had. In fact, stop right now, before reading on, and think about whatsuper power you wish you had.
Quite often I will hear the ability to fly, or to see through walls, or have super hearing. These are just a few of the powers I hear. But this isn’t about flights of fancy. This is about innovating in business. So how do we make that jump–take that step from fanciful thought to creative process change? By thinking around the problems.
Once you have a power in mind, the first question to ask is “Why?” What would that superpower allow you to do that you can’t do now? For some it’s the ability to know what is going on down on the shop or warehouse floor. For others, the ability to “read minds” would let them know what their customers, or their employees, want. For still others the ability to fly would let them do more things over vast distances.
The second question then is “What technologies (or processes, or tools) can we find that might help here?” Obviously, if something already exists you won’t be creating a “new” innovation but if you have never applied that technology or process where you are, it is innovative in your case. That’s an innovative win! But what if there is no off the shelf solution?
The third question is “What sort of challenge is keeping us from doing this idea?” Often it is simply the lack of initiative to pull together a collection of ideas and solutions to meet your need. Or it could be that there exists one or two technical hurdles that, when overcome, will allow you to move forward.
From here, you can see how you would work through a series of questions and answers that will get you to a solution that, with the right support, could transform the way you do business.
One quick example:
I would love to have the ability to broadcast a speaker and have the camera follow the speaker as they walk around the room talking. For example, imagine a professor teaching a class to a room full of students, while also broadcasting to students worldwide. One of the challenges to most VTC-style set ups is that you have a fixed couple of cameras, and often you need someone running a control panel to switch between them as required. But when you start with the idea that you want the view to move seamlessly around as the speaker moves, you start to perhaps imagine the “skycam” in football. But of course that would be rather complicated.
Enter the Microsoft Kinect. No sooner had it arrived on the scene than people started work on hacks that would let you do a number of things. One of the more creative was to generate a 3D “space” linking together several of the devices. This connection of devices allowed the hacker to move seamlessly through a virtual 3D space in real time. Now, it isn’t much of a step beyond that to imagine the use of RFID technology to adjust the focus of the display in the 3D space to follow the speaker.
The point of the example isn’t to sell you on this idea, but to show how, by identifying a “gap” and just looking at the technology around you, you can find truly innovative solutions.
Allow your inner super hero to help you find that gap.