Inventing New Ideas

Good ideas can come from anywhere! But can one consciously foster creativity and new ideas on demand? Certain successful companies and creative experts suggest that it is not as hard as most people think. Everyone can be more creative with technique, practice, and motivation. Perhaps "a leap of faith" is also required for the skeptical.


3M encourages employees to spend at least 10 percent of their paid company time to work on business-related subjects that really interest them, even outside their assigned job definition. And it works.

3M, along with many other successful new product development companies, found that good ideas do come from everywhere, not just from formal R&D.

Idea-generating techniques. Here are a few ways to get your own creative juices flowing.

  • Interview industry and technology experts. These people are generally futurists in terms of knowing and evaluating the latest products, ingredients, trends, and technologies.
  • Find and interview new product pioneer users. Category users who are the first to adopt and use new products are usually months to years ahead of the average category users. They are often one to three generations of product use ahead of the average user's products (e.g., computers).
  • Conduct a feature/benefit analysis of your company's products and competitive products. You may be surprised to find out how your products do compared to the competition. Often there is room to incorporate more important features by deleting those that are less important. Significant benefits may result.
  • Conduct group "brainstorming" sessions. Alex Osborn developed techniques to foster group creativity by temporarily changing the rules of group behavior.

Related Resources

Brainstorming Techniques

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