Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Question (5Ws/1H) Technique

The Who-What-Where-When-Why-How questions or 5Ws/1H, aid in expanding your view of a problem or opportunity, to try to make sure that all related aspects have been considered. By going through several cycles of the 5Ws/1H, alternatives related to the problem or opportunity can be explored exhaustively. This technique is one of the most useful of all creativity techniques because it can be used after each phase of the development cycle. By asking the 5Ws questions you have greater assurance that you are covering the full set of alternatives to be considered. The response to the H (How?) question provides approaches to implementing the ideas you have generated with the Ws. The answer to the H question should be a resource budget covering the 6Ms: Men, Materials, Machines, Methods, Market and Money. Procedure for use: 1. Develop a question for each of the Ws and the H. 2. Develop responses to each of your questions. 3. Evaluate alternative approaches suggested by your responses to your questions. When an improved approach results, determine its cost-effectiveness; and change the problem solution accordingly.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


The CAPS concept enhances and supplements the 4Ps and has special significance in the marketing of services. The following connections may be considered. Procedure for use: Consideration refers to the inconvenience that is caused to the customer. This could be loss of time, safety or loss of dignity. This adds to price. Access refers to the ease with which a service can be used. Promotion is a little different when we consider that many aspects of a service are intangible. Finally service is of course something that has far more dimensions than a product. Service cannot be touched or smelt but only experienced. Example for use: Apply CAPS to a bank to improve customer service. Consideration – The paper work could be made easy to understand and someone may be deputed to help. Access – Computer and Internet access may be provided so that people can complete their transactions from home or office. 24/7 ATMs improve access. Promotion – Member-get-member programs may be used. Service – Home delivery or office delivery of cash could be offered to selected clients.

Bug List Technique

Innovators share the feeling of being driven by a real or perceived failure of existing things or processes, to work as well as they might. Fault finding with the world around them and disappointments with the inefficiencies with which things are done appear to be common traits among inventors. According to Marvin Camaras, an inventor, “Inventors tend to be dissatisfied with what they see around them … maybe they’re dissatisfied with something they’re actually working on or with an everyday thing... They say this is a very poor way of doing it.” The Bug List techniques were developed to capitalize on this tendency of faulting things around us – to lead to corrective action. Procedure for use: 1. The group is asked to identify things that irritate or “bug” them. Each person is asked to identify 5 or 10 bugs. 2. Then the list is consolidated to identify the bugs common to most persons. 3. The group is led through the list and asked to vote. 4. Then the group brainstorms ways to resolve the bugs.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Experiential Attribute Matching

Experiencing an event is totally different from thinking about it. Information from the five senses rushing in reflects the ecstasy of the experience. One of the groups in my training program went on a turtle walk on a beach. They saw a large turtle alone on the sand; one of them came up with the idea that individuals in an organization should be allowed space to grow, without interference, in solitude. Yet another saw the slow and clumsy turtle and came up with an idea that postulated the exact opposite: let the organizational plan be clear and precise. Learn to capture dreams, visions, floating thoughts and to synthesize them into your plans. For example, the best way to understand a tree is to become a tree in the storm.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tent Thinking vs. Marble Palace Thinking

A bank wanted to rapidly open branches at a minimal cost. They were not sure which locations were most likely to succeed. An I Lab came up with the idea of using existing organizations such as schools, petrol bunks, and panchayat halls to set up branches. This solution has two advantages: 1. It was inexpensive 2. It could be easily dismantled or closed if not successful. Today, the speed at which corporations are required to grow, involves experiments. An experiment should be inexpensive. In fact, in an experiment, there is no success or failure; there is only feedback. This essentially is Tent Thinking. A tent can be put up, change shape, it can expand or reduce and it can be put up elsewhere. Marble Palace Thinking involves a fascination with permanence. Permanent structures, people and systems are expensive and difficult to dismantle. Permanent staff is a fixed overhead, which cannot be reduced as a swift response to falling demand in a recessionary market. This is the Marble Palace mentality. Success in today’s scenario goes to those who are swift, dynamic and able to respond to mercurial changes in the environment. Adaptability is the most important quality this millennium demands. Marble palaces become fixed overheads, which are difficult to adapt to any other use.

Company Wide Innovation Tools

It is only through the systematic learning of tools, the generation and testing of new ideas that organizations can improve their Innovation Quotient (IQ). Company-wide innovation is not about nurturing solitary genius in sterile laboratories, but requires the bubbling enthusiasm of teams, playfully ping ponging wild ideas, taming them, using old ideas as a foundation for innovation and finally carefully hand-holding and nurturing innovative teams through the long and messy process of implementation. Companies wanting to be innovative need to draw a clear line between thinking and doing. Thinking can be outrageous, intuitive, and dangerous. It can only add new dimensions to understanding the situation. The rules for thinking are different from the rules for doing. Implementation is possible only with a clear foundation of rational thought and practical application. ‘Thinking enables us to explore alternatives before choosing the most suitable, profitable and satisfying solution. ‘Doing’ requires different analytical skills. But many companies make people afraid even to think beyond the beaten path. Today any company traveling the traditional path may be driven off the road by innovation in technology, as in the case of the ,textile units in Coimbatore. The greatest paradox is that the biggest risk of all is not to be innovative, never to do anything new, even at the experimental level. The business or individual who never experiments and continues to do things ‘the way we’ve always done it,’ feels safe and comfortable, but risks being caught out by changing circumstances. An experiment should not destroy the company. An experiment should provide feedback and not be judged for its success.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thinking Tools

Thinking tools are formulae and methods to help people think out of the box. The use of a thinking tool enables every participant to generate ideas. Each idea is usually different because people are unique and bring to the table their own unique experiences and assumptions. The best way out of a deadlock in the discussion is to use a thinking tool. Thinking tools make the teaching of creativity simple. Tools can help us replicate innovation quickly across the organization. The world’s foremost companies have insisted on teaching creativity and innovation skills. IBM, Coco Cola, Unilever, Sony, ICICI, Ashok Leyland, TI, HLL, TVS - the list goes on. IBM even has a two year program for all its engineers. MindsPower I-Labs, over the last 20 years, have been dedicated to improving the creative potential of Asian companies.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Boundary-less thinking

Boundary-less’ thinking has brought us face to face with the fact that there are no limitations to corporate or personal growth. One of the interesting experiments that conducted was on the second P of Marketing, Place. One of the hospitals consulted for a major problem with the “place” component, since it is far from the city. We made an exciting assumption that changed the situation dramatically. They said “place” is where our patients are. Our doctors, our equipment, or facilities could go wherever the patient needed it. So they set up a home health program, which takes doctors to the homes of patients. A school health program takes the concept into schools. Companies all over the country could benefit from this concept. They are no longer constrained by lack of space. Distance is telescoped by good transport. Our services are offered at faraway places, by training and appointing associates. An individual can be highly creative when he has the right beliefs about his true, unique nature.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Brainstorming technique was developed by George Prince, one of the founders of the creative thinking movement. This is a technique called developmental thinking, which is used to explore ideas which are attractive but not yet feasible. In simple terms, if two people A and B, are discussing an idea given by A, B as a discipline, should identify three elements which he likes about the idea. This encourages A. B then goes on to give an itemized response on his specific concerns about the idea. The concerns are specific and they identify problem areas for A to solve. Instead of being adversaries on opposite sides of a problem, A and B become partners in growing the idea in a peaceful, nurturing climate. There is a great deal of work done by thinkers on how to make the group climate more creative and less hostile. In developmental thinking, as the teachers at Synectics say, “All potentially positive features of the ideas are identified and the deficiencies are used to give the direction for improvement, preserving the element of novelty while the idea is modified to make it feasible.” This process is a contrast to the conventional screening of ideas into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ after a typical brainstorming session, when novel ideas are likely to be screened out because they are not feasible.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Thinking Tool : Turn Upside Down (T.U.D)

The steps followed in T U D: 1. Normal belief: A hospital is a place for sick people. 2. T U D: A hospital is a place for people who are healthy. When we looked at a hospital as a place for people who are healthy, our base of customers increased to include a vast number of healthy people who come for positive health programs. The positive health theme included the “Well Woman” program, which involved a health and beauty focus: yoga experts, beauticians, and women’s health practitioners helped create a vastly successful program. Preventive health care became a positive activity. 15 check-ups including the heart check, the diabetic check and the child health check were part of the wellness check portfolio. the relationship with customers, which traditionally started on a note of pain, anxiety, and death, began on a happy note. The focus was how to remain healthy and how to face problems. The lifetime relationship, which is the bedrock of direct marketing today, started on a happy, positive note, with wellness as the key. Since then I realized that, thinkers from Plato onwards have developed hundreds of thinking tools which are as easy to learn as the 3R’s - Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. The simplest tools include checklists ranging from Rudyard Kipling’s famous “Five good serving men” (The questions Why, Where, When, Who and How) to Alex Osborne’s 9 Word Checklist.

Idea generation

Stars make extensive use of brainstorming to generate ideas. Idea generation is most productive when it is used to tackle a specific business problem. As mentioned in Chapter IX, the rules for a successful idea generation are: suspend judgment, postpone reaction and extend effort. In addition to brainstorming, Stars make use of many other tools for the generation of ideas.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Innovative Marketing practices

The marketing and sales departments are the eyes and ears of the company in the marketplace. They are part of the market intelligence system that keeps company officials informed about the rapidly changing conditions in the micro and macro environment. The gathering of this information is usually casual, depending on the individual’s own interest. This may consist of market gossip, newspaper and trade reports, clues from the field force and information from outside sources. The information is often random and sketchy. The company may learn too late about a dealer’s need or a customer’s changing aspirations or a competitor’s aggressive move, to respond effectively. Stars are able to excel due to their practice of the following: • Training sales staff in the process and systems of collecting information • Using the internet, media and contacts to gather all available information • Buying information from specialized market research companies

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Listening to the customer

Stars made regular use of market research to source new product ideas. Market research enables the company to understand a marketing problem better because customers spark off innovative ideas faster than any other resource. New product ideas are likely to emerge from the marketplace during research. This is because changing fashions and improved communication networks are creating new aspirations among customers. This information has to be solicited, as it will not flow or be recognized in the hustle and bustle of chasing bottomlines. Careful observation, interpretation of information, and recognition of opportunities is the key to success.

Impact of Innovation on the bottom line

The profits of Stars grew faster than the profits of spectators and Non-starters. Stars also reported higher levels of employee satisfaction, lower levels of employee turnover. Additionally, employees of Stars had great faith in the quality of their products. Innovation Stars are on a positive cycle in which increasing profits and high employee morale reinforce each other.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Stars Differentiate from Aspirants and Non-Starters

Stars were very positive about their company and its future. They believed that the quality of their products was higher, and that their market share was increasing. Employee satisfaction levels were high because people were committed and engaged. Some of the other factors that differentiated Stars from Aspirants and Non-Starters were: Stars had a greater belief in the need for creativity in the organization. Innovation was clearly mentioned in their mission statement. They systematically measured customer satisfaction, and used this information to make course corrections. They spoke directly to their customers. New ideas were often obtained through market research. They made use of outside consultants. They used cutting-edge technologies to impact bottom lines. They were able to ensure that different departments worked together. They excelled in environmental scouting for ideas. They had a shared process of idea generation.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Aspirants and Non-Starters

Aspirants: These companies recognize that innovation is integral to success in the marketplace, but have not put in place, systems to drive innovation. These companies want to be innovative, but don’t know how. Many of the companies surveyed fell into this category. These companies have the potential to be much more successful. Non-Starters: These companies do not recognize the importance of innovation.