Behold. The 12 techniques used by the best entrepreneurs, creatives, makers and doers from all over the world. In this world of plenty, it can be easy to become snow-blind by the amount so-called tools, hacks and techniques available. The chances are though, if you want to make change that matters, then you will most likely need to bring it all back to a combination of these 12 techniques. Take a moment to reflect on each of them. Then make a decision to try to get better at using them each day. NB: I’ve not finished this article… it’s a prototype 😉
Here goes, the 12 free innovation techniques anyone can use:
1. Try Breathing
Next time you’re stressed or under pressure, take a moment to assess the pattern of your breathing. You’ll most likely find that you’ve become a little constricted and tense. Breathing techniques that are part of a regular Mediation and Mindfulness practice have been scientifically proven to have a positive effect on concentration levels, productivity, clarity of thought and therefore creativity. In the words of Psychologist and Buddhist, Tara Brach “Meditation is evolution’s strategy to bring out our full potential.”
2. Ask More Questions
During our quest to land your idea or make your project happen, we’ll most likely fall into the trap of making the odd assumption or two. It’s important that we guard against this as best we can if we are going to produce our best work. Gut instinct can be useful at certain times but we must also consider what the data is telling us. In his renowned book on how we humans approach problem-solving, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman explains “To derive the most useful information from multiple sources of evidence, you should always try to make these sources independent of each other.” So, we must ask more question… of multiple independent sources.
3. Try Listening
Ernest Hemmingway said “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”. If most people never listen then think of the advantages we can gain by truly paying attention to what people are telling us. Our co-workers, friends, customers and partners all possess knowledge and insights that are different to our own. It’s an abundant resource if we choose to tune in.
4. Try Empathy
A friend and entrepreneur Bjorn Bakker who recently founded Blindfeed a company intent on harnessing the wisdom of the workforce by blowing up the bureaucracy, once said to me “Empathy is the currency of change”. It has stuck with me ever since. If we are to make better products and to meet the needs of the very people we are looking to make change for or with – then it is absolutely essential that we take the time to walk in their shoes.
5. Think Slow Act Fast
Nothing of any great worth happens immediately. Home runs don’t exist. To produce great work we need to think slowly and deeply about what your product is about and the results we seek. In all of his vital work, Seth Godin encourages us to answer questions about our projects such as “who is it for?”, “what is it for” and “what is the change you seek to make”. Once we’ve managed to answer these questions then it is time to hustle and to sprint. To put everything we have into delivering as quickly as possible.
6. Set a Deadline
There is no fluff about this one. Set a deadline. The secret here is to pick a time/date that feels comfortable and then reduce it by a quarter. Set it to a level that everyone feels might be a little too stretching – then go for it. With everything you’ve got.
7. Try Prototyping
A prototype is a sketch or a nod towards what your thing might become. It gives you just enough to get people interested in what you’re doing. Just enough to ask questions, listen and feedback into improving what you do. In his book The Lean Startup, Eric Ries calls this a Minimum Viable Product or MVP, “As you consider building your own minimum viable product, let this simple rule suffice: remove any feature, process, or effort that does not contribute directly to the learning you seek.”