5 Steps to Brilliant Innovations


How many times have you thought, “I wish I’d thought of that!” or wanted to know how to successfully connect to a winning concept?  Great innovators create new ideas by making connections between seemingly unrelated experiences and observations to uncover surprising and unique insights.  Now you can have the genius quotient, too.



My new book, Red Thread Thinking: Weaving Together Connections for Brilliant Ideas and Profitable Innovation, proves that insights are no accident.  The book helps you tap into your own resources and knowledge in order to create big, successful, fresh ideas or improve on existing ones

Here are just 5 examples:

1. Take a Fresh Look at the Past

Few ideas are completely original.  For example, Jason Lucash and Mike Syzmcak were looking for speakers that were convenient to carry and that would reproduce the quality sound of the music they liked when they were traveling.  Their speakers would have to fit easily into a suitcase and require no batteries or power supply.  They noticed that origami — the ancient art of folding paper to make three-dimensional animals, boats, cups and more — would allow an object to be folded flat when not being used.  They also saw that Chinese takeout boxes are flat packed until a restaurant wants to fill them; then they are popped open.

Today, Jason and Mike’s multi-million dollar company, OrigAudio, makes “Fold n’ Play” speakers.  They require minimal space in luggage, because they begin life flat, like a Chinese takeout box, and turn into 3-inch speaker cubes with a few simple folds.  Origami and Chinese takeout – old ideas that inspired big new business.

2. Change Your POV

Taking a different point of view can open added revenue streams.  Though Apple might have set out to design a more handsome MP3 player, it quickly realized that the true product benefit was the music itself, not the design or the technology.  The company framed its market in a different way and looked at its business from another perspective.  Apple understood it was in the music business, not the player business, and developed a look and function that removed as many barriers as possible to delivering music.  This all led to the invention of iTunes.  By connecting consumers with what they desired in a single step, Apple now “owns” the delivery of digital music.

3. Check Your Culture

Innovations that enhance and build on existing consumer beliefs are easier to introduce to the market than products that try to change behaviors.  Febreze noticed people smoothing bedspreads and curtains at the end of cleaning, and smiling as if to say, “I have finished, job well-done.”  Febreze saw that positive reinforcement at the end of a cleaning routine as an opportunity.  How could they further enhance that good feeling?

In a relatively mature category, where other air fresheners were positioning themselves as part of the cleaning process to mask odors, Febreze highlighted its use as a finishing touch, a good smell to signal the job’s end.  The concept of an added bonus was much more attractive than suggesting it was needed as a part of cleaning.  Who wants to perceive one’s home as having bad odors, even if it does?  With that, Febreze became a rapid success.

4. Think in Pictures

Simple is what sticks.  Make your idea so simple; capture it in an image or combination of words and images with such clarity, that everyone will understand it.  “I heart New York” has the immediate impact and sense of energetic fun missing from “I love New York.”

5. Believe in Your Inner Innovative Genius

We all have the power to design and develop thoughts into brilliant and practical innovations for everyday living.  Personal passion is power.  A belief in your own talent will generate your natural curiosity and open-mindedness, and help you be more willing to take risks.  It will also give you the resources to stretch and challenge yourself if your first idea is not a winner.  Improve upon it.  The weakness of your first idea points you toward its potential strength.

“Red Thread Thinking” is a proven approach that enables you to innovate whenever it’s necessary — for everything from personal problem solving to entrepreneurial aspirations to tackling larger, more complex global issues.  You have the power and inspiration to bring your own knowledge and understanding to bear on anything that you believe can be improved.

What’s on your mind?  Where do you see a need?  Seize that opportunity.  You can create an innovative solution that captures market attention and compels people to purchase.

Reprinted by permission.

About the author: Debra Kaye

Debra Kaye is a trends expert who specializes in culture brand strategy and innovation for consumer businesses.  Her most recent book is Read Thread Thinking: Weaving Together Connections for Brilliant Ideas and Profitable Innovation.

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