Powerful Stimulus Contributes to 12 X More Ideas

Powerful Stimulus Contributes to 12 X More Ideas - Innovation ExcellenceThis is another in a series of articles about how you can consistently generate at least 12 X more ideas than brainstorming. This process was pioneered by Doug Hall and built on by my team at Innovate2Grow Experts. The four factors contributing to 12 X more ideas than brainstorming (as confirmed in two Oklahoma State University studies) are diversity, stimulus, left/right brain, and no fear only fun.

In my six years of teaching at Arizona State University, I conducted a class demonstration on the power of stimulus. I asked students to take out a pad of paper and write down all the places they would like to go on vacation. When the list was done, I asked them to draw a line under the last item. Then in small groups, I had them go to the back of the room where I laid out hundreds of travel brochures and travel information. I asked them to review this to see if there were any other places they would like to add to their list.

We then counted the number of ideas they had before the stimulus and the total after the stimulus. Over the course of six years and two semesters a year, this process consistently tripled the number of ideas – triple the number of places they wanted to go on vacation – with very, very simple stimulus.

In the Quantum Idea Generating sessions we run for clients, we make use of five different categories of stimulus. The first type we call “background and grounding” stimulus. This stimulus provides the entire group with an understanding of why the vision of success and strategy are right and how both of these were arrived at. It includes an understanding of the brands/businesses – size, types, trends, etc. This is typically prepared and presented by a key member of the client team.

The second type of stimulus is “broader perspective.”  This shares recent/very recent business developments including reports of future competitive plans and even speculation about how your market will develop in the next couple of years. It can also include a worldwide perspective of what is going on in products of your type – even related products. Again, this is typically prepared by a key member of the client team, usually someone from R&D or marketing.

The third type of stimulus is “recent developments.”  This has some similarities to broader perspective stimulus, but is typically much more research news and developments relevant to the task at hand. This can be technology, science, and broader and/or specific research studies nationally/internationally.  In the bigger projects, external experts often prepare these presentations in advance and in smaller projects the right internal experts develop them.

The fourth type of stimulus is “mind expansion.”  Later in the session when the rate of new idea generation declines, mind expansion challenges fundamental preconceptions of way things work. Major ideas follow.  We most often use YouTube videos loaded with startling facts and futuristic projections. Our favorite is a series titled “Did You Know…….”. We also have some custom developed videos that can really get people shaken up. In projects that we lead, it is the responsibility of the creative facilitator to have a variety of these presentations available. Which presentations are best is determined by assessing the need and opportunity to jumpstart major new idea generation.

The fifth category of stimulus is “inspirational.”  Like the mind expansion stimulus, inspirational stimulus is designed to help people think bigger, broader and deliver the biggest ideas of the session.  In projects that we lead, it is the responsibility of the creative facilitator to have a variety of these options available. We use two basic forms. We have custom PowerPoint presentations that are all visuals that use humor and highly unusual success examples. Music and dancing can also be another form of energizing a group.  Which presentations are best is determined by assessing the need and opportunity to jumpstart major new idea generation.

The choice of the right stimulus varies greatly based on the nature of the inventing session and the makeup of the group. As I will discuss in the next article, we conduct groups very differently if the makeup is strongly left brain or strongly right brain. This impacts not only the creative exercises but the types of stimulus we use.

You can learn more about Quantum Idea Generation in the Innovation Best Practices podcasts (episodes 1-6) and videocasts. You can listen to the podcasts at i2ge.com/podcast or on the free app we have for iPhones/iPads in the app store and for android devices at Google Play – just search for “innovation best practices” and download the free app.

You can view the videocasts (same audio as the podcasts) on YouTube here

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Richard has spent most of his career in and around innovation – senior leader at Procter & Gamble and Gallo, professor at Arizona State University, author of six books, and a successful entrepreneur in the innovation and creativity business. He’s a regular podcaster. Check out i2ge.com and bluesagecreative.com. Follow him @Innovate2Grow

Richard Haasnoot




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