Cultivating Innovation - Using Knowledge Transfer to Think with an Innovative Mindset 1

In our previous post, we discussed how to use knowledge transfer to help innovators present their ideas. But where do those ideas come from? How can knowledge transfer help encourage employees to be more creative? How do you teach employees to approach the marketplace with eye towards innovation? How do you research with innovation in mind? If you have your version of “writer’s block,” how do you spur your creativity?

We’ve worked with clients in various industries ranging from food science to software design, medical devices to video games, and aerospace to fashion. The actual products and services couldn’t be more different, but one thing they all had in common was their methodical approach to sourcing inspiration.

  • A video game developer we worked with found inspiration in the true creative nature of its employees. Many of the people that work in game development were also artists. In fact, that’s sometimes their job title. They work on lighting and color and creating visual effects for the games. In their spare time, they do other kinds of art. So, the company held an actual art show where they brought in their sculptures, and their drawings, and their mixed media pieces.
  • At a global food conglomerate, their approaches to creativity had a heavy emphasis on data. They ask themselves what comparisons, combinations, iterations, etc. they can test to spur towards better, smarter, faster.
  • At a multinational defense, security and aerospace company, the senior design engineer was thinking about what he wanted the technology to be able to do 10 to 15 years from now. He said, “I’m thinking about laser technology that won’t be available in the market place for at least 10 years.”
  • At a major global footwear manufacturer, the head designer goes shopping, but not for shoes. He goes into the market place and looks at what’s being done by others. He is seeking inspiration much as Michelangelo might have sought inspiration in exploring how someone stood in the light.

Granted, Michelangelo was sculpting humans. Today, our clients are looking to find inspiration for product innovation. The question is how do you do that? In all those cases, there seems to be pixie dust or magic. Whatever “it” is actually something that they do very methodically. In fact, all of them agreed that if prompted properly (using the 20 Test Questions), they could teach other people how to do it, too.

Summary: At the end of the day, none of those people are necessarily going to be the next Steve Jobs, but using tools like the 20 Test Questions would pull them forward into their most innovative self. Knowledge transfer would help them methodically behave like innovators so that they could be as useful to the company from an innovation perspective as possible.