Did you know great innovators formulate new ideas by making connections between observations, experiences, facts, history and feelings that on the surface do not seem related — but are — to uncover fresh, brilliant insights? You can do the same.
A new book, RED THREAD THINKING: Weaving Together Connections for Brilliant Ideas and Profitable Innovation by Debra Kaye reveals how to activate your own knowledge and resources — what you already have at your fingertips — to make connections for big insights and smart, innovative ideas. Here are just a few examples from this simple, common-sense approach that is as almost easy as tying a red string around your finger:
- Look for new ideas within those that already exist. Most “original” ideas aren’t completely original. For example, the Gutenberg Press, which forever changed the world of communication, was based on ancient Chinese moveable type, the wine press from the vintners in Rhineland and Gutenberg’s own metallurgy experience. Old ideas put together in a new way to change the world.
- Ask unexpected questions. How you frame a question is often the biggest path to new ideas. Jay Walker, the creator of Priceline.com, could have created another aggregator traveler site that offers the best prices and schedules. Instead he turned the tables. He asked hotels and airlines what they might accept. Consumers are now in a position to set prices, and as a result he opened a whole new way of doing business.
- Look what can play into people’s existing behavior. Many innovators make the mistake of thinking a new product must change people’s behavior. That’s hard to do. It is much easier to look at their habits and just create a new fit. Returning from a family vacation and lugging baggage around the airport, Bernard Sadow saw a customs agent effortlessly roll a heavy machine with the help of a skid with wheels. A little jerry rigging and the first wheeled luggage was born.
- Sleep on it. Sleep not only provides rest and restoration but it is essential to our ability to create and innovate. Research shows that your brain is very active when you sleep and information transfers from one part of the brain to another, so that new associations and connections can be made more freely without being from some sort of experience in your life.
- Think that you are a genius. Attitude and belief in your own abilities makes you more curious and open-minded and more willing to take professional and intellectual risks. The more you believe you can stretch yourself, the more you will think of your capacity to be smarter and you may just be so.
Red Thread Thinking is a process you can use to develop ideas from scratch and innovate in any situation — from coming up with new business ideas to coming up with ways to solve a sticky situation in the office. It helps you achieve and succeed even in a weak economy. With practice, you can become as naturally good at developing successful ideas as many well-known innovators.