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How to Innovate

Happy days are here again if you learn to innovate!

These are happy times for the innovator and entrepreneur. As the saying goes, innovators and entrepreneurs love a time of chaos and confusion with tomorrow unlike today and without doubt unpredictable. And these are, most certainly, days of chaos and confusion.

If you’re a Millennial or younger, you will have between 15 and 20 jobs over your working lives, each about three years long, and you’ll move about 11 times.

If you embrace these times and these changes, you’ll be well ahead of the game -- and you’ll have fun too.

These five steps will help you scope out the possibilities and then develop some solutions.

  1. Identify a problem or a pain that needs to be solved. Some techniques: observe your audience; use multiple points of view; rethink the process being used.

  2. Build three or four solutions quickly. Some techniques: make the problem into a metaphor; simplify the problem; change the rules being used; change how we determine value or benefit.

  3. Test your solutions. Some techniques: use small samples; overload or exaggerate the solution; change the target audience.

  4. Define the way you’ll measure success. Some techniques: think of a quantitative way to measure what you’ve done; define both social impact and economic value.

  5. Explain what you want to do to a total stranger in three minutes -- what it provides, who will like it, what benefit it offers.

Innovation is more than thinking of an “interesting idea.” it means that you’ve come up with an idea that works. That will require that you put your idea into practice (even if limited to a small group); that you test it; revise it as you get reactions; redesign it; and then test it again.

If you’d like to learn how to innovate, look at The Black Book: Designing Change. You’ll find there a more detailed discussion of the strategies innovators use along with exercises and examples.

If you’d like to talk more about an idea you have, sign up for our Idea Clinic.


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