Our last blog post focused on feeling “stuck” and offered a few ways to help you move forward. This week’s blog continues to explore the tools you can use to get “unstuck” and bring your ideas to life.
Below are two different approaches for getting your creative juices flowing, and real-life success stories that will inspire you to think laterally.
1. Reframe the problem
Retreat to the initial query and figure out a way to rework the question. By giving it a twist, you can trick your brain into thinking of it as a brand-new issue and in turn, that may help you come up with better ideas.
Here’s a clear example of what we mean. At the airport, people often complain about the long wait time at the baggage claim. Engineers asked themselves the obvious: “How can we speed up the conveyor belts?”. They invested thousands of dollars into the belt mechanisms and cut the wait time by more than half (15 minutes to 8 minutes).
Success, right? Well, people still complained.
The engineers then decided to rephrase the question to “How can we reduce passanger’s wait time?”. The new concept involved making the wait time shorter, not the baggage delivery faster. The solution: prolong the time it takes for passangers to arrive at the baggage claim area. At first, this may sound counterintuitive, but this solution not only increased customer satisfaction, but it also increased duty-free store sales.
The dilemma could have been posed in many different ways. Here is how other people have solved the problem:https://www.synectmedia.com/work-solution/reimagined-baggage-claim-experience It is important to note how the consumer pain point one chooses to solve for or the insight you chose to leverage, in this case Occupied time feels shorter than unoccupied time, has a direct impact on the type of solutions found.
What ideas can you come up with if the question had been “How to keep passengers entertained while waiting for their luggage”?
2. Assumption reversal
Imagine you’ve been hired to create a unique concept for a new restaurant. The most evident route to take is to think about modifying the food and/or the décor, both key elements of every restaurant. But, instead of adding something new, how about removing a variable from your restaurant?
Foremost, make a list of the things that every restaurant should have. Food, chairs, tables, cooks, waiters, an entry, etc. With such a long list of “should have”, there is little space to innovate!
Assumption reversal is a great tool for coming up with new concepts. It works like this: eliminate one item from the list and reimagine what a restaurant without that would look like. Say we choose to develop a restaurant without cooks! What ideas come to mind?
· Guests bring their own homemade meal, and the emphasis is put on excellent service.
· Guests choose from a variety of ingredients and cook communally.
· Students or children cook while learning core skills.
Say there were no tables…
· Guests could enjoy their food in a cozy lounge setting
· Guests eat standing at the kitchen table while the chef demonstrates how to prepare the dishes.
There exists a type of restaurant in some of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities (such as Paris, London, and NYC) that doesn’t have lights (http://travel.spotcoolstuff.com/unusual-restaurants-eating-in-the-dark). The idea is that by suppressing one sense the rest become heightened, leading you to relish your food that much more.
These are just some of the countless ideas you could come up with using this technique. We are so used to thinking that creativity lies in running free and uninhibited, that we overlook the fact that creativity can exist and flourish within restrictions.
Lateral Strategy specializes in moving ideas forward. We are an Insight and Innovation Studio that uses Creative Problem Solving, Design Thinking and Synectics Innovation Frameworks to help clients problem solve by understanding customer’s needs. Our services include Research, Ideation and Strategic Facilitation to help you learn the new, make sense of what you already know and pave the road to success. We bring actionable insight to all Research projects and move clients to solution finding faster.