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The 21st century executive

5 Innovation Tools to Start Using Today

innovation tools

These days, it seems like innovation has become a strategic goal for every company looking to get ahead. Whether it be to bring new, never-before-seen products to market or simply to provide a new digital take on their current wheelhouse, companies are constantly looking for ways to innovate. That said, it’s much easier said than done. It’s fairly common to feel like you’ve run out of ideas or that anything new has already been created. That’s exactly when you should start considering innovation tools.

Innovation tools are methods and strategies that help to usher in the innovation process. We've pinpointed 5 such sools to get your creative juices flowing and start innovating today.

1. Brainwriting

6-3-5 Brainwriting is an innovation tool that facilitates the brainstorming process. With this method, your team can come up a staggering 108 ideas or solutions to a problem. The steps are simple:

  • Six people write 3 ideas on a worksheet in 5 minutes.
  • Each person passes their worksheet along, and their ideas are built on, or new ideas are generated in response.
  • The group organizes the ideas and selects the best ones.

This method has the potential to produce more ideas in 30 minutes than a team might otherwise come up with in a year. 

2. Business Model Canvas

The Business Model Canvas is a structured template created by Alexander Osterwalder, which is used to help plan and understand business models. This innovation tool prompts you and your team to think about the customers served, the value provided, and the source of profits. 

The canvas fits onto one sheet of paper and can assist in discovering new solutions and new market opportunities. If you are struggling with where to start, try mapping out the business model for your competition. The canvas can provide a different, valuable perspective.

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3. Six Thinking Hats

Six Thinking Hats is a role-playing tool developed by Edward de Bono that allows an individual (or team) to view a problem from several different perspectives. If we always solve problems “as ourselves”, we tend to bring the same thinking to each problem. Linear thinking is not a recipe for innovation, so by wearing the following “thinking hats” we can quickly find new perspectives on any problem:

  • The White Hat - Facts. What are they?
  • The Yellow Hat - Optimism. What are the positives, strengths, opportunities?
  • The Black Hat - Risk. What might go wrong? 
  • The Red Hat - Intuition. What do you feel, sense, love, hate?
  • The Green Hat - Creativity. New ideas and possibilities.
  • The Blue Hat - Manager. A guide for the thinking process.

Role-playing frees us from being ourselves, which can be especially useful if you usually play a specific role in the company. For example, if you are responsible for managing your company’s risk, you may be out of the habit of introducing creative new ideas. 

4. Jobs To Be Done

Jobs to be done is an innovation tool that promotes focusing on the customer’s objectives. This approach can help the innovator break away from existing products and find alternate ways of solving the customer’s problem. 

You can use this innovation tool with your team to identify the customer’s situation, determine what they need to get done and pinpoint their expected outcome. This shift to “situation-based” thinking is used to discover new solutions to old problems.

5. Matrix Thinking

Roger LaSalle’s Matrix Thinking provides a series of prompts to guide successful product innovation. These prompts help a product innovator align their product with customer’s frustrations. They also ensure the product solves a predictable, regular, and widespread problem (as predictors of a product’s value in the market). 

Your team can use the matrix by scoring and ranking new product ideas based on their likelihood to succeed. This innovation tool can help provide multiple points of view and determine which ideas are worth exploring.

What’s stopping you?

There is no set formula for innovation, and as such, innovators tend to avoid structured thinking. The general belief is that structured thinking produces predictable results. Creative thinkers prefer to rely on intuition, and non-innovators tend to leave it to those who are “more creative.”

With innovation tools and methods, however, can help you look at a problem from a new perspective. They provide ways to view things differently—and when you get this right, innovation follows.

If you're leading a DevOps team, you're going to want to use innovation tools paired with DevOps tools. Take a look at this article to learn more about these unique tools for such teams.

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About the author
Elena Leralta

Working as Foreworth’s Chief Financial Officer, Elena possesses a wealth of knowledge on business management and finance owing to her over 20 years of experience working in the financial sector.

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