Do you need to come up with innovative solutions at work? Are you being asked to innovate to stay ahead of the competition? Do you have to devise new ways of communicating with your customer base, communities or target audiences? This is the case for most of us, and we need to do all this quickly, efficiently and regularly. Not an easy feat!
Here are five tips that I use at work that help me innovate in my day-to-day tasks:
Tip 1: Switching your point of view
Try flipping the script to create the right conditions to open up your mind. For instance, if you are looking to find ways to improve communication with customers, just flip your question around: “How can I make communication with my customers worse?” And then list your ideas. You’ll see that it’s fun and a great way to spark your imagination. Once this list is complete, flip the script again and list the things you need to do to prevent these problems from happening. In the end, you’ll have a solution for the problem you started with.
Tip 2: The chameleon method
By comparing your company to another, even without clear similarities between the two, you can make considerable headway with your creativity. This approach involves putting yourself in other company’s shoes, taking on how they work, their corporate culture, point of view, and so on. This will kick start your imagination. For instance: How would Disney communicate with your consumers? How would Apple improve your brand appeal?
Tip 3: Have a break, have a...
It takes time for ideas to link up and turn into something valuable. Patience and contemplation are essential factors for innovation. Delve into your topic, become proficient in it and think about possible solutions. When you begin to feel overwhelmed, stop working on that topic and go for a walk or work on something else. Your unconscious mind will continue working on the issue until chance, analogies and intuition yield new connections and combinations that turn into new ideas.
Tip 4: Put yourself in the customer's shoes
To understand customers and their needs, you need to really listen to them. This method involves putting yourself in their shoes and visualizing their experiences. I recommend that you do some exercises that will help you flesh out a customer profile, such as the Empathy Map, so that you can gain a better understanding of their environment, behavior, concerns and aspirations.
Tip 5: One for all, and all for one
Brainstorming as a team helps you come up with more ideas than doing it alone, and it’s much more fun and engaging. Other people look at things from different angles, come up with different combinations and put ideas together in different ways. I do recommend that you start out with individual brainstorming sessions where everyone lists their initial ideas. Teams that employ this hybrid approach are three times more productive than teams that only use the group method, both in terms of quality and quantity. Don’t forget that group innovation works best with multi-disciplinary, intergenerational and diverse teams. Always try to get a broad mix of people!