Our innovation tactics

We undertake many steps to help our teams sharpen their innovation skills and instincts so we’re ready to accept the hardest challenges from our clients.

To help our people innovate, we are implementing a specific set of tactics into our daily operations. Our Managing Director, Peter Brookes-Smith, on our blog, has put a couple of words together on how to achieve a mastery in innovation. We hone our skills to make sure we help our clients find the best solutions possible.

First tactic

Create Ridiculous Constraints

In a Wired column in 1995, Nicholas Negroponte said that “incrementalism is innovation’s worst enemy”.
I’ve seen teams struggling to find ways of reducing their budget by 5% but engage creatively in ways to slash it by 50%. Try thinking of an essential process that takes 2 hours and challenge yourself to find a way it can be completed in 2 minutes.
There are so many examples where teams of people have triumphed in overwhelming adversity where the situation was so constrained it appeared that all hope should be lost. Most of us are fortunate enough that we’re not placed in life threatening situations and forced to innovate or die. But, when we’re faced with a problem that needs fresh thinking, it’s not so hard to create some utterly ridiculous and totally unfair constraints. They can help us to see the problem with fresh eye.

 

Create ridiculous constraints: Apollo 13 found itself with a failed mission, a damaged craft and no way home. Their constraints were utterly unfair, and yet…

Create Ridiculous Constraints
Second tactic

Smash yourself into new ideas

Smash yourself into new ideas

Whilst our education system encourages many of us to know more and more about less and less, I’ve always believed there is huge value in a broad base of knowledge. A hunger to understand many things creates the building blocks for innovation.
History is littered with examples from Leonardo Da Vinci (“learning never exhausts the mind”) to Steve Jobs (“stay curious”) of people who achieved astonishing things through their hunger for new ideas and understanding.

 

Smash yourself into new ideas: In 1962, JFK laid out a powerful new idea to a group of assembled scientists in Houston. It lead to many, many technological breakthroughs.

Third tactic

Break the rules

It can be hard to ignore the received wisdom and the known truths when exploring, but it can be hugely valuable. I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve seen young or inexperienced teams achieving amazing results because no one had told them all the things that don’t work!
We can’t turn back time but every now and then it’s worth trying to imagine that the things we know to be true, just might be wrong. Once that’s done, it’s a much smaller step to try and envision a world free from those chains of orthodoxy.

 

Break the rules: Once we “knew” that the world was carried by elephants riding on the back of a giant turtle.

Break the rules
Fourth tactic

Analogise to open new doors

Analogise to open new doors

Or to put it slightly differently, learn to get better at finding ways in which things are like other things! When we can find similarity between problems that are, on the face of it, completely different, then we can open the door to a completely new class of solution. Inspiration there can lead us to find new ways.

 

Build analogies: When a bee hive gets too full, the workers create a new queen and she leaves the nest, taking 1/3rd of the bees. They fly to a nearby temporary home and send out scouts looking for the ideal location…

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