When understanding how our mind composes and processes ideas, we must ask how we can leverage those cognitive abilities, control them, influence them, and improve our thinking skills? The Neuro Ideation method is the first step in that direction.
0) Experiences are Innovation Silver
There is no more relevant experience owner in the market than our customers. The value of the “Open Innovation Theory” is now scientifically proven. The Innovation Opportunity Discovery method uses that knowledge and helps identify the biggest innovation opportunities and provides the inputs to turn the inputs into groundbreaking innovation. For that very reason, represent customers a strategic companion in any market-facing innovation project. We should add a diverse set of customers to our ideation process. If we compare it with climbing a big mountain, we are now at basecamp, together with our customers.
The oldest and still not a bad starting point for innovation is Brainstorming. However, a typical brainstorming session takes about an hour and brings the most obvious ideas forward. Our energy-conscious brain does not go very deep into analogous situations, let alone into distant experiences. It also won’t weave more complex experience networks to produce rather exceptional results. At the end of most brainstorming sessions, the team is already exhausted but finds very cool ideas, and most of the team are excited. The team’s excitement stems from the fact that most of them could comprehend the best idea right away. Those obvious ideas get usually selected as the best and processed further. This means that most everybody else will understand them, and some could easily replicate those ideas. They may become nice improvements, but never true innovations. But we reached our camp 1 on our quest to go to the top of the “idea mountain.”
2) Post Brainstorming ideas
Almost everybody had already experienced that in the following days after brainstorming, participants of such meetings come with new ideas – often better ideas – in the following days. However, most teammates consider those “latecomer” as distracting and fear that the ideation process will never get done and turns them down if more come. This is rather unfortunate because the brain continues searching for more great ideas. But since we did not know how our mind works, we turned it down. Assuming that we are looking for truly groundbreaking innovation, we will let the brain continue to work for 48 hours and allow brainstorm participants to add those ideas into the innovation system whenever those ideas seem to be very relevant. And this is just the beginning. At this point, we reached camp 2 on our trip to the mountain top.
3) Analogous experience connections
When we have enough time to think about problems, our brain has another powerful tool: analogous experience search. It does that by taking the results from past thinking and tries to find similar but unrelated experiences. That means that our brainstorming was a good first step to stimulate the brain to find various alternative situations that would normally not come to mind. For most of the past 2 million years, we needed our brain to survive, circumvent danger, and save ourselves from far more powerful animals and other risks. Decisions needed to be made fast. And an obvious idea was just right. But there was also time to muse. In that time, the brain was able to search deeper and wider, had more time, and could come up with completely “useless” questions like what this space up in the air could be. Time to think was and still is one of the most valuable times for our minds. Today we use it to purposely reach further in our neural networks for solutions that are definitely not “obvious ideas.” The compositions of our obvious ideas with analogous ideas are producing already far better results. We can say we reached camp 3.
4) Post analogous idea development
And like with the first brainstorming result, the ideas, augmented by analogous ideas, are growing over the next 48 hours. Interestingly enough, we learned that our mind is not looking for more analogous ideas but different connections in our “past experience” repertoire from our own experience. Our mind searches for verification during that process if the analogous ideas are really in synch with our original problem. Simultaneously, it looks for variations of the idea in the context of the analogous situation. In BlueCallum, we were using extreme sports development and how it evolved to find a parallel to our current development, understanding how our mind can become significantly more powerful when we understand how it works. At this point, we are reaching camp 4 on our ideation journey.
We are calling the next phase “CallomBurst.” We are taking our ideas to a level where the solution is most likely impossible to realize. We are asking ourselves what would the perfect solution look like in 100 years. What would this solution look like if resources, financing, and time would be irrelevant? The word “Impossible” is banned from the discussion. We are getting to ideas that would be literally unconditionally ideal. We want to reach the limit of possible perfection. Only if we are at the limit, we know nothing can compete with our vision. And the purpose of the CallomBurst is to create the level of impossibility. It can become our vision, with the understanding that we may achieve it over the next 5, 10, or even 50 years. That vision will differentiate us and our idea and doable concept from the rest of the industry. Even if our biggest competitor uses the same technique, they cannot come to the same vision but will have a different vision. And that means a different company with a different goal. After the CallomBurst, we reached our 5th camp, and the last before the summit.
6) BlueCallum Summit Day
A few days after the CallomBurst, the team climbs the last piece of the journey and recaps all their experiences. The final and impossible idea continues to entertain our minds, and it creates a picture of where everything we have worked on could end up. BlueCallum Summit Day is where the visions are shared with everybody. On that day, it may fuse to an overall vision for the team and the company. That vision will be clearly unique and become the disruptive and innovative concept the company may want to realize. Obviously, the product would not exist on day one. But it gives the whole solution a long term direction that will be a reality one day. But everything that will be available in the first version of the new product will be an innovative and disruptive solution from day one.