The Power of Stimulus To Inspire Breakthrough Innovation Solutions.

This blog provides powerful, practical information about how to use stimulus to inspire breakthrough innovation solutions. Stimulus is the second of the four Quantum Idea Generation 2.0 elements we utilize in a creative session to generate at least 12 X more ideas than brainstorming – and a quality of ideas you will never get from brainstorming.

Here is a brief recap of Quantum Idea Generation 2.0

  • Quantum idea generation produces at least 12 times more ideas than brainstorming.
  • To generate these powerful results you need to use four elements – diversity, stimulus, brain type, and eliminate fear and have fun.

Today we’re going to dive deep into the topic of how you bring powerful stimulus into an idea generating meeting. You can immediately start using the help in this blog.

As you plan for an important innovation idea generating meeting, make sure you plan for the right stimulus since it pays off in many big ideas.

This blog covers important “must haves” in planning stimulus and provides some real stimulus examples.

The benefits of Quantum Idea Generation 2.0 go beyond the business part of your life. Here is another example of where I learned about the power of innovation while at Penn State, This example involved a very controversial effort. Prior to my arriving at Penn State, the campus humor magazine had been banned because of things they said about the college president’s daughter. Along with a friend, we developed a comprehensive and innovative plan to bring humor back onto campus. We developed a multi-element innovative plan and we executed it well. The result was the triumphant return of Froth. We had the support of hundreds of students who signed up to be part of the sales and editorial staff.

Stimulus is information you bring into an innovation session that immediately generates many more ideas compared to no stimulus. Information can be in the form of words and/or pictures. While in innovation sessions, PowerPoint presentations tend to be the most prevalent; I will give you an example of a simple, informal talk that inspired 40 people to do exceptionally innovative work.

There are five basic forms of stimulus.

  • Background and grounding: it is often good to start an innovation session with a presentation on what is already known and the basis for the session’s needs and objectives.
  • Broader perspective: this is a very big category of stimulus and includes some of the following topics.
    • Competition: what they are doing, where they are strong/weak, recent and upcoming innovations.
    • Worldwide: finding examples of what other similar businesses are doing can prompt significant new ideas.
    • Megatrends: broader cultural and demographic changes relevant to the session’s needs.
  • Relevant developments: whenever you have top external experts as part of an innovation session, ask them to present latest relevant developments from their perspective.
  • Mind expansion: we occasionally use a series of presentations called “the world is a very different place than you think it is.” Includes developments from science, especially quantum physics. It is intended to shake up deeply entrenched views of people in the session so they can explore some even wild and wacky ideas.
  • Inspiration: we have a series of presentations that inspire people to take the existing ideas – many of which may be breakthrough ideas already – and make them much bigger.

Here are a few stimulus examples.

  • When I was a professor at Arizona State University, I used this very simple example to demonstrate the power of stimulus. I asked students to write down all the places they would like to go on vacation. Then in small groups I have them go to the back of the room. There I have laid out hundreds of travel brochures. I asked them to review the travel brochures and add to their list of places they’ve like to go to on vacation. I then asked them to add up the number of places they had before and after. Consistently, the number of places they wanted to go on vacation doubled and in most cases tripled.
  • This next second example used no PowerPoint slides and was one of the most inspiring stimulus presentations I have ever experienced. We were doing a major project for Kimberly-Clark. Since the session’s purpose focused on senior citizens, I found and invited Dr. Bill Thomas– a Harvard medical school trained physician who is broadly recognized as one of the most knowledgeable people on senior citizens. Dressed in a sweatshirt and sneakers, he informally sat in front of the group and shared deep insights into this important group of consumers. Both the information, which was mostly unique to Bill, and his manner of communication inspired and guided a very important and intense three-day inventing session that included more than 30 people.
  • Third, in virtually every one of our major sessions, we use the relevant developments type of stimulus presentation. These are presentations usually given by the external experts. In the previous blogs I talked about a project we did for Nestlé. One of the key external experts was a professor from Cornell. He had done breakthrough, relevant, and unpublished research that the top scientists at Nestlé were unaware of. This information along with presentations from the Penn State and Ohio State professors enabled us to almost completely solve the client’s need a half day into a two-day session.

Here are a some considerations when putting together stimulus.

  • Keep it simple! Do not trying to fill a PowerPoint slide with as many words as possible. Stay focused on the very few major, difference making points.
  • Pictures. Pictures. In most projects, visuals have great stimulus and inspiration potential. They are also very strong communicators of key information.
  • Have a stimulus plan for the entire session. In most cases you start with a background and grounding presentation. It then often makes sense to add a relative developments presentation or two or three. Inspiration and mind expansion presentations often come later in the session. For example, if it is a whole day session, these types of presentations are often most helpful right after lunch or in the early afternoon.

If you want help with your innovation program, we can help you achieve dramatically better innovation results in 90 days or less. Guaranteed. We help businesses of all kinds and sizes to consistently double their innovation success rate by creating innovative solutions that are dramatically better than all of their competition. We can consistently do this because Innovate2Grow Experts is the only innovation consultancy using the eight most proven innovation best practices.

At Innovate2Grow Experts we can help you in two fundamental ways. First, we can collaboratively work with you in a variety of ways on a specific innovation need. Second, if you are interested in being trained at a high level on the eight most proven innovation best practices, you can start for free.

Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to reconnecting with you soon. Have a great day.

Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to reconnecting with you soon. Have a great day.

Richard Haasnoot, Head Coach, Innovate2Grow Experts/

Founder and Producer, Innovation Best Practices podcast