Forcing Innovation

Hoping a great idea will spring into your head, like the proverbial light bulb turning on, is like hoping to win the lottery. Sure, it could happen, but it likely will not. Why leave innovation to fate when you can force it?

For 30 years I’ve found myself in the position where I needed to innovate. Innovation doesn’t just mean coming up with a product idea. No, innovation is about finding the best solution to any problem. You may have to decide your sales strategy or find a solution to some difficult technology problem. When you take a moment to think about it, we spend most of our time looking to solve problems we face.

Many of us respond to “answers” that may pop into our brains. We should add X feature. I should do Y to be a better manager. We should do Z to increase sales. This is all backwards. Your team needs to first start with the problem, develop an exhaustive list of all possible answers, and then select the top 2-3 solutions for the problem. It’s that simple. Next, spend your time discussing and testing the top 2-3 solutions rather than wasting valuable resources on the many bad solutions.

Over the years, I’ve borrowed, tweaked and tested a number of innovation techniques. I describe how to use the simple process, poorly dubbed BPT, in my book Map of Innovation: Creating Something Out of Nothing. My long time goal was to turn this technique into a website, which is now available at We are still in beta with our innovation tool, so it’s free to use. Let us know what you think.

Kevin O'Connor