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January 18, 2013 / compassioninpolitics

What are the most powerful innovation and problem solving methods?

Here is a quick run-down of 12 of the most powerful innovation and problem-solving tools:

1. Asking questions
2. Looking at assumptions
3. Cross-disciplinary & cross-industry study & models & solutions (exporting solution from low density to high density)
4. Design thinking (theoretically an impressive way to solve both business and wicked problems). Its unique value is that its a process & a set of tools–not just a single tool. It also uses the tools of Service Design as well. It also understands human experience as fundamentally emotional & visual–or at least that our efforts to solve problems need to take those issues very seriously in order to be effective.
5. Looking for gaps & problems
6. Association & combination (Reese cup innovation)
7. Competitions (like the X Prize)
8. Crowd sourcing (like Open IDEO)
9. Six Hats (De Bono Method) & TRIZ
10. Interviews, Ethnography, Listening, Observation (other methods of providing a feedback loop)
11. Checklists & mindmaps
12. Prototyping & iterative improvement

One key thing to think about. Various methods which improve risk taking. Without risk taking innovation at the idea level never gets expressed and/or the ideas never get tried. That also means that group dynamics need to embrace new & off the wall ideas.

To me #4 is probably the most powerful. It integrates many of the others into its fold.


Leave a Comment
  1. Peter Hackbert / Jan 18 2013 1:08 pm

    Great list. I am in the early stages of designing the Entrepreneurship for the Public Good Program summer institute and have included ten of the listed elements.

  2. compassioninpolitics / Jan 21 2013 5:52 am

    Awesome! Great! Thanks Peter.

    Here are the other posts on Compassion in Politics dealing with Problem Solving:

    I don’t think any are quite as to the point or succinct as this one, however.

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