Great companies are built on great ideas. Little notes that you can stick time and time again. A tension spring that bounces from place to place and brings hours of enjoyment to kids. Underwear that holds in all your wobbly bits and makes you look fabulous in a little black dress.
These creative sparks aren’t easy to come by. Lots of people think that creativity is innate. That game changing ideas just happen to a lucky few. I disagree. I think that everyone is a creative genius. It’s just that some people haven’t fired up their inner spark generator yet.
Whether you work in the art department or IT, whether you’re a creative director or an HR manager, you will need to get creative to excel. So when you’re stuck for new ideas, why not try looking at Sawney and Khosla’s seven ‘insight channels’:
1. Anomalies: it is natural to look at mass trends for insight. However, every now and then, it pays to glance away from the means and the averages and see what the outliers are doing.
2. Frustrations: what frustrates you about your daily life, your work routines, your colleague’s behaviour? What solution could you provide to this?
3. Confluence: where different trends intersect can often be a breeding ground for great ideas. Think about what large trends might come together to create opportunities.
4. Orthodoxies: tough as it may be, sometimes you have to turn your back on ‘the way things are done’, ‘the way it’s always been’ and think about alternatives.
5. Extremities: don’t just focus on the mainstream. What can you learn from your most difficult employee, your most enthusiastic customer, or your most unhappy?
6. Voyages: if your stuck why not make a journey into your customer or employees’ worlds? Leave your desk and go and visit accounts on 7th floor, how do they use systems? What’s making them unhappy? Or set up a meeting with a customer and get to know how they experience your products.
7. Analogies: don’t underestimate what you can learn from other departments and other industries. Look at what people completely removed from your particular circumstances are doing and think about how it could be applied to you.
So there you have it. Seven things to look for is you are stuck for ideas. You can read an in depth article on the seven insight channels, with loads of great examples of the theory in practice, in HBR.