Innovation is often the essence of expansive business thinking. Here's some thinking tips to help you in your innovation.

Step 1: DECIDE where to be innovative  
Map it first. Here’s why: Because being innovative without a map is a recipe for wasting time and money. Do you want to innovate on a process, product or service? Know what you do before you start to make it better.

Step 2: CREATE new touch points 
Look for creating touch points that start before and after your existing touch points. Here’s why: Great innovations can happen by looking beyond what you think is your line of work. How can you add value before your client comes on board, and how can you continue to deliver value after your client has done business with you?

Step 3: IMPROVE by fixing it
Fix it. Here's why: Applying constructive words to touch points can prompt great ideas. Use constructive words like: Stop, Start, Combine, Strengthen, Reduce, Multiply, Substitute, Reverse, Simplify, Speed up, Slow down, and Modify. Could we simplify the sign up process we have? Could we reduce the amount of paper work required both for the client and ourselves?

Step 4: CHALLENGE by asking ‘can we remove it’?
Challenge it. Here's why: A touch point or part of a product is never beyond challenge, but because we use them so often we see them permanently set in stone. What would happen if you had to remove a touch point? What if we had no face to face meetings? What if we had no forms to fill out?

Step 5: FIGHT by breaking traditional thinking
Fight it.  Here’s why: We are creatures of habit, and left to our own devices we will think and behave the same way every day. Fighting this pattern can help us to create new ideas that we would not normally have considered before. What's the opposite to what we would normally do? If you work in finance - think romance. If you work in aviation think education and if you work in mining think advertising.

Step 6: BORROW and change them  
Change it. Here’s why: Once you have established the key attributes that make an idea great all you need to do is change it to suit your application. What is it that makes Facebook so compelling? How could we take those attributes (not necessarily the technology platform) and apply them to our community of clients and customers.

Step 7: LET GO to create  
Leave it. Here’s why: One of our most creative states is when we are in an Alpha brain wave state. The Alpha brain wave state is seldom achieved when working at our desk, it happens when we are chilled out, calm, relaxing and having fun somewhere away from the office. Make sure you either call yourself on your phone or write your ideas down. The mind is a weak slave to good ideas.

Step 8: USE IT or lose it
Create a mental map. Here’s why: Our mind has so many thoughts that unless we map them, they take up valuable processing space that can stop us from moving on with making our ideas happen. Try using Freemind, Mindmeister or any other mind-mapping software to help capture your thoughts. The mind seldom thinks linearly so why take notes that way?

Step 8: VISUALISE in order to realise
See it first. Here’s why: Actively visualising our finished process, service or product can only help to create a superior one. Imagine what your product, service or process will look like and how will it function? If we can't see it in our minds eye it's going to be terribly hard to realise in real time.

Step 9: CONTRACT to get traction
Create a contract. Here’s why: Accountability gets results and by having an accountability partner who asks you how your idea is coming along will force you into action. Find an accountability partner and share with them what you're going to do and by when. Nothing beats a kick up the back side by a friend to help us complete our projects.

Step 10: MAXIMISE return on investment
Track it. Here’s why: By knowing how our idea is progressing and the effort that has been involved we can objectively establish how much money and resources have been used and the R.O.I from the activity.
Create a spreadsheet that gives your idea a number, tracks the time, energy and resources spent. Look at the time spent, the effort spent and the outcomes of all your hard work. The more you track the more you learn.





Nils Vesk

Innovation strategist