Best Ways To Innovate a New Idea

Innovation Certification

Innovation360 certifies people across the board in ideation and innovation, an art that is hard but possible to learn. Earning the Innovation Certification provides you with the insights, training, and tools needed to successfully ideate and innovate.

In the film Inception, a crew of corporate dream raiders is pinned down under heavy fire as Joseph Gordon Levitt struggles to imagine his way out of their innovation crisis. Tom Hardy, an expert in the creative subconscious, advises, “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.” Provisioned with bigger dreams, the crew finds that their possibilities open up, objections drop away, and they can move on smoothly to the next phase of their journey.

Christopher Nolan, the writer-director of that movie, was heavily influenced by the master of translating intellectual dreams (and nightmares) to film: Ingmar Bergman. Bergman said his severe upbringing, mirrored in the film Fanny and Alexander, drove him to deeply explore his dreams while awake. “Hence my difficulty,” he confessed, “in separating the dream world from the real one. I became a great liar to escape the punishments.”

Dreams are the touchstones of creativity, as they emerge out of emotion-tinged memories, remixed and remastered by the logic circuits of the brain. Bergman explained his process, saying, “On the deepest level, of course, the ideas for my films come out of the pressures of the spirit; these pressures vary. But most of my films begin with a specific image or feeling around which my imagination begins slowly to build an elaborate detail.”

How Dreams Grow

Clearly, we have now embarked on a dark descent into the caverns of creativity, far from the harsh lights and precise measurement tools of innovation. Too often, out of concern for efficiency or fear of peer judgment, innovation teams do not dive deeply enough into their creative pools. They come to the surface too early, with mediocre dreams that can’t survive the work and struggle to come.

Big dreams often grow from the smallest of seeds, invisible to all but the most careful observers. Bergman wrote, “My films grow like a snowball, very gradually from a single flake of snow. In the end, I often can’t see the original flake that started it all.”

At Innovation360, we have observed from countless iterations of successful innovations that ideation cannot always be traced back to a single well-formed idea. The sketch on the back of a napkin is rarely sufficient to generate a market disruptor.

Instead, innovations grow in punctuated equilibrium from the tiniest of delicate snowflakes into a massive, unstoppable snowball. An innovation demands a vision of crystal clarity – the kind that bursts forth from a dream.

At the earliest stages, nurtured creativity is vital for the ideation of innovation, but companies make a grave error in trying to contain creativity in a structured process. Creativity has its own demands and timeline. You can’t spend your way to creativity, but you can inspire it. Fixing the right incentives for your creative team is imperative. That does not mean monetary incentives, but it does involve intelligent feedback, encouragement, and coordinated team efforts.


The Inner Workings of Creative Minds

Many scientific investigations have explored the nature of creativity and the techniques businesses must master to harness it. Creativity is informed by strains of intellectual, emotional, motivational, and moral choices, many of them subconscious. Common traits shared by creative thinkers in all industries include:

  • An openness to one’s inner life
  • A preference for complexity and ambiguity
  • An unusually high tolerance for disorder and disarray
  • The ability to extract order from chaos
  • Independence
  • Unconventionality
  • A willingness to take risks

All of these tend to be exciting to be around, but most are inconsistent with the needs of the enterprise to scale up operations by standardizing routine tasks.

Psychologist Frank Barron at UC Berkeley describes the creative type as someone who is “both more primitive and more cultured, more destructive and more constructive, occasionally crazier and yet adamantly saner, than the average person.”

Building on his work, neurologist Marcus Raichle found that creativity is not a “right brain” function, as is commonly understood. Creative works emerge from a dynamic interplay of inputs from many disconnected regions across the entirety of the brain. Notably, creativity heavily relies on the activation of regions related to emotions, the unconscious, and dreams. Raichle found that the interior surface of the brain, particularly in the frontal, parietal and temporal lobes, were engaged in a network of imagination. It is most productive in unstructured ruminations, he says, when people daydream and allow their minds to wander without direction.

The ideation stage is most successful when leaders can guide development teams into this state for brainstorming, hackathons, innovation jams, etc. In our Innovation Certification – the Certified Applied Innovation Leader Program – you learn how to link strategy, techniques, tools, and methodology to successfully ideate. You will also be granted 90 days access to the leading ideation platform, Ideation360.