How are innovations created?

Without problems there are no ideas – without ideas there is no innovation – without innovation there is no development – without development there is no success! But the term “problem” is misleading and has negative connotations. It is therefore not without reason that many entrepreneurs speak in a motivating way of “challenges”, “chances of success” or even of “goals”, which can mean “problems”. The Latin origin of the word “problem” means nothing else but: “the thing accused, the thing presented, the thing that has been presented [for solution]”, i.e. a situation that requires a solution and calls for action. This can be a task without a solution, a process that does not work as expected or a wish that cannot yet be fulfilled.

The problem as an opportunity? Of course! Because almost all great inventions were created because people thought about problems and did their best to solve them. Be it Gutenberg, who wanted to reproduce written texts in an optimized process to make them accessible to many people, or Edison, who strove for a light source that not only the rich could afford. Sometimes, inventions are even created because people like Steve Jobs are already working on solutions to problems that the customers don’t even have at the time. This also shows the interplay between a recognized opportunity, a challenge, goal-oriented action and an appropriate solution.

Anyone looking for solutions to problems and creative ways of thinking must therefore always first work out as precise a definition of a problem as possible to better describe the goal. This question can be formulated as a simple question or as a wish:

How can I achieve xy?
I would like to reach xy.

Especially creative people can produce such open questions regularly and enjoy it. They discover the questions even there – and look for alternatives – where other people have not seen a need for optimization yet. With a little practice, you too will learn to put questions into concrete terms and thus approach your goal successfully and creatively:

How do I define a good goal?

As concrete as possible, instead of: “I want to increase the sales of my business”.
better: “I would like to sell more flowers to people under 30 years of age”.
As often as possible: The more questions are formulated, the more answers are possible.
As challenging as possible: The goals should not be too easy to solve, but also not too big.
Develop a sense of opportunity for yourself by going through the world with open eyes, constantly searching for new questions. Try not to see problems as a burden, but as a stimulating exercise. That’s why it’s your turn now:

Take a piece of paper and write down as many open questions as possible that come to your mind about your work, your daily routine or the processes in your job. It is not important that you find an answer immediately; in the first step, you should first formulate as many questions as possible in concrete terms.
This exercise can also be implemented well in a team, but make sure that no “nagging mood” arises, but that the questions are formulated constructively. Or use the Innovation Digging method directly. Like treasure hunters, the team members go on a search for new questions and thus make idea generation plannable (more on this in one of the next Verrocchio Notes).

The list now serves as food for the next creative meetings. How you then come up with new ideas – you will learn more about this in the next Verrocchio Notes.

With inspiring greetings,
Christian Buchholz