The Power of Everyday Connections
Everyday Innovators are continuously seeking and making a diversity of connections for new ideas and innovation. Everyday Connections highlights the four general types of connections that Everyday Innovators make: People, Data, Experiences and Analogies.
Connecting to other people is a great way to spark ideas, gain feedback, and to gather multiple perspectives on a desired result you are trying to achieve. People can include internal or external experts in a particular knowledge area, your peers, colleagues, friends, and even family-members. There are many venues and platforms that can assist in connecting to people, including social business sites, professional associations, conferences, discussion forums, blogs, and good old face-to-face "brown bag" lunches. Connect to a diversity of people. That is, connect to those from other disciplines, cultures, backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences. This is often how you get beyond habit and beyond the obvious to generate new ideas that lead to innovation.
Connecting to data by accessing information and knowledge that is captured in a form that you can view or read that has been captured and documented by someone. This might include books, magazines, articles, journals, white papers, research, benchmarking studies, best-practice data-bases, blogs, websites, videos, and on-line (or physical) library information.
One of the best ways to generate ideas is to experience something related to your desired outcome. Again diversity of experience is important. Many large companies who are seeking new ideas and innovations around products no longer conduct formal focus groups. For example, a maker of kitchen cleaning and dishwashing products don’t tell their idea-generators to ask people who clean kitchens and dishes "what they want." Rather, they tell their idea-generators to clean kitchens and wash dishes. They are told to experience the work of those they are trying to support through new products. Other examples of this are when animators who must create new animal characters from Africa go to Africa to observe, experience and sketch these creatures in their natural habitat. Or when toy designers observe children playing as a way to spark ideas around new toys. Observing, listening, and doing, are great ways to generate ideas through experiences.
One of the greatest opportunities for advancing and improving our organizations and our world is the ability to make associations and to see connections between "things." Especially those things that, on the surface, might appear to be completely unrelated. Innovators become skilled at finding and making these connections. For example, a doctor who specializes in detecting signs of disease may ask, "Who else, or what other profession has effective ways of detecting things?" Perhaps an astronomer has learned to observe irregular fluctuations of stars to detect planets, or an airport official has learned to detect unusual passenger behavior, or an insurance agent has become skilled at detecting fraud. Although on the surface, these all may appear completely unrelated—these examples and connections could all be "leads" to a technique or tool or process that could serve as the spark for a new way of thinking about detecting disease.
Share your best connection sources that lead to new ideas.