1 Way We Innovate: Use The Idea Blender
Put ‘Em In The Blender And Blend Till Smooth
You may or may not be old enough to remember the old Reese’s Peanut Butter cup commercial – they’ve refreshed it a few times but if you don’t, here it is. They make light of the creation of peanut butter cups by showing one guy walking around the corner eating a giant chocolate bar, and a girl walking around the same corner in the opposite direction eating from a giant peanut butter jar with a giant spoon (yes, she is walking down the street eating peanut butter from a jar – an everyday occurrence, evidently) Anyways the inevitable happens and bam, they knock into each other and somehow, the giant chocolate bar ends up in the giant jar of peanut butter – and of course the conversation ensures “Hey you got chocolate in my peanut butter!” and “Hey, you got peanut butter on my chocolate!” said like it’s the worst thing in the world. Of course when they each taste the blend, it is the most awesome sensation ever. “When two great tastes taste great together.”
In our workshops, we don’t typically knock two people together in order to see what comes out of it, (unless you’d like us too ;)) but we do try knocking (or blending, more like) two concepts together to see what happens. The best blend comes from taking two completely different things and throwing them together in the idea blender, and see what comes out of it. Of course, you don’t need to stop at two – you can throw all sorts of stuff in that thing. Think of it like the kale smoothie of innovation – might not look so good at first, but it tastes great and it full of nutrients.
Here’s an example
The other day, I was at an ideation session with one of our clients and someone mentioned that the white board markers smelled like fruit. I’m guessing someone had accidentally bought the wrong kind of markers so those are the ones that we had (yep Expo Scented Dry Erase Markers) so instead of getting a new set of markers, ignoring them or just randomly complaining about them, I made those markers the trigger for a whole new set of innovative product ideas. While this is a great example of serendipity being a trigger, blending the idea of the fruity smelling markers with the types of products that the company was trying to build (not fruit or food related in any way shape or form) enabled us to generate a raft of new, completely out of the box ideas, all around smell and color. It unlocked a whole new set of innovative ideas, where we blended their current products together with the concept of smell. We even threw some Internet of Things devices and sensors into the blender to really fortify our kale shake of innovation. A half hour later, we probably had about 20 new ideas out of that session – some of which were buildable today, others went into the patent pipeline for eventual build out or licensing tomorrow.
This also proves that you really need to be open to throwing anything in the blender. Don’t stop yourself from throwing something in there because you don’t immediately see the benefits of that ingredient. Some of the best tasting shakes have come out of throwing interesting ingredients never mixed before and pressing that smoothie button.