Assemble Ideas Ideatively

The human brain can be thought of as an Idea workshop where you build Ideas the way children build with building blocks.

Imagine for a moment that you’re a child at play. Imagine that you are playing with building blocks, of which you have a wide variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and even systems.  The connectors don’t all match because they are from different systems, but that is okay; in fact it is great. You build a bridge, but it’s a normal bridge and you want a unique structure, so you switch the pieces around and create a bridge that flies, and that’s unique…  The bridge will be more fun with the toy cars so you add them and use an apple to block the road so those cars need the bridge to fly away, and of course you need someone in a space suit to try to shoot down your bridge with their stapler laser gun.

This analogy demonstrates how as children we saw relationships among objects and bits of information where relationships did not previously exist, and often really shouldn’t exist. An apple is not a toy and bridges don’t fly, yet in the example you just read the child played with the apple and made the bridge fly. When you Assemble Ideas in Your Ideative Workshop – your brain – you are fitting pieces together,  blocks of information to form Ideas. You fit pieces together that belong together and you fit pieces together that shouldn’t go together, just like a child at play.

For Example…

One of my favorite illustrations of the Ideative process is a scene in the movie Apollo 13.  Note that this scene accurately represents a real event.  The astronauts were in space and only had only a few hours of breathable air remaining. The ground crew needed to develop a method to filter the spacecraft’s air and they needed to do it FAST.  A group of engineers gathered in a room and their leader emptied a box of what seemed to be random items onto the table.  These items were in fact duplicates of everything the astronauts had on board the spacecraft, from tools to supplies to toiletries. The lead engineer then told the group that this is what they had available to make the filter.  The engineers proceeded to Assemble the various items into several configurations until  they ultimately crafted the filter that kept the astronauts alive.

This scene illustrates the concept behind The Ideative Process; the engineers took objects that had a variety of different purposes and Assembled those items into a solution.  The tools, supplies, and toiletries were similar to the blocks of information in The Ideative Process.  The process the engineers used is easily duplicated; collect as much information as possible into one place, then pick and chose among the available items to Assemble your Ideas.  Then test different combinations until you have a solution.

Could your people perform the way those NASA engineers performed? Yes!

Ideative Creativity: Gather blocks of information.  Assemble the blocks into unique configurations.
Before launching into Assemble you need to prime your brain with the raw materials that are the blocks of Experience and Knowledge gained through the activities of Inundate, Deviate From Your Routines, and Enhance.  You need to Inundate to build a large volume of blocks, Deviate From Your Routines to build a diverse collection of blocks, and Enhance your blocks of Experience and Knowledge to make each block as Vivid as possible.

You have probably been through an event where a great idea just pop into your head. Though you didn’t realize it at the time, you were probably doing or recently been doing something along the lines of Inundate and Deviate, and either while Assembling or during a period of relaxation the idea came to you.

When you have done your Inundation and Deviate well, Ideas will very often just pop into your head – The Ideative SuperNova.  For those other times, there are methods and tools for Assembling Ideas.

A. Begin by thinking through the building blocks you have already collected for your Ideative subject. If you need to write thoughts down then Mind Maps, 2×2 matrices, branch diagrams and flow charts are great if you know how to use them. Regular notes on paper or in your head are just fine if you are not familiar with those techniques. Team discussions enable sharing blocks.  Collaboration of this sort creates a form of Ideative super brain.

You now have at your disposal, in your mind or the minds of your group, the equivalent of every size shape and color of building block in your inventory, a variety of custom made shapes and colors and numerous odd and end pieces from bolts and string to fine jewels, furniture, electronics; every block of Experience and Knowledge from Inundate and Deviate.

B. Arrange your thoughts on a whiteboard, a desk or in your mind just as a child would spread their toys around the floor.  This is where mind maps and white boards or poster paper can literally act as blocks of information.  Put as many details onto board or paper as possible so that you can take the information in visibly. Explore what you have.  Talk about what you have with your group, or to yourself; engage speech and your sense of hearing.  If you have stories, facts, or visuals bring those in to stimulate additional senses and emotions.  If your work involves some site of significance then work at that site.  For example, if you are working to improve plant efficiency, work at the plant.  NEVER go off site.

Put a few items together, pull some sections apart and reassemble them in a different way. Keep anything that looks like an Idea.

The goal is to assemble numerous combinations of inputs into Ideas, capturing those Ideas with promise, modifying those that are close, and throwing the few Assembled pieces that did not work but that you find interesting enough to keep together into the pile for use as part of another approach – “I don’t like this wing for my spaceship, but Wow!, if I add a few red blocks, a paper clip and weld it to a mother board I have a great robot construction toy.”

Imagine your team in a conference room, with the table and chairs pushed aside, writing out details onto whiteboards, file cards, poster paper, and connecting the related and unrelated as you Assemble potential Ideas.  There is some commotion as people trade “blocks” while others duplicate existing blocks – everyone needs a few green square blocks.  They Assemble some Ideas, take a break then Assemble more.

This is not brainstorming; there is neither randomness nor “free” thinking; your people are very focused on a targeted business need and therefore they are developing realistic innovations.  There is no, “everything goes” attitude.  In fact bright red sheets of paper hang all over the walls; these are the barriers and constraints, literally placed on the walls to interfere with the progress of Assembling Ideas.  Participants are forced to think deeply about these barriers and constraints, recognize the challenges and work on solutions to go around or overcome them.

In the end there is some laughter and some frustration – not all Idea constructions worked out because your Barriers and Constraints are real.  There are also some workable solutions to day-to-day problems and a couple of breakthrough Ideas that have great promise.

There are no silly ideas and more important, you have no ideas that will lead the company executives to false hope that you will have to answer for.  These Ideas are innovative, realistic, and valuable.  Most are incremental but some have the potential of breakout innovation.

You have more, better Ideas and you and your people understand how to repeat the process of generating Ideative SuperNovas and Assembling Ideas in the future and in every area of their work.

You are on your way to embedding The Ideative Process into your corporate DNA.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Comment

This blog is kept spam free by WP-SpamFree.