Innovation isn’t something that can be reduced to a formula. It can’t be turned into a formal structured process. Nor can it be simplified into fixed rules. You can’t just copy or imitate the methods of another business and expect the same or better results.
An infomercial business owner walks into stores and asks:
“Do you have anything unusual that would make a great gift?”
If he finds a winning product, he’ll either obtain a licence or make something similar though not too much the same to avoid legal hassles.
He’s never afraid to copy – think how many big companies do it. His favourite other question to stores he visits:
“What’s your bestseller?”
If the bestseller is, for example, a high-priced blender or mixer, he’ll make a cheap knock off.
These two questions that makes this business person a fortune.
Questions, like any other idea generation techniques have their limitations. You may come up with a number of questions but still not generate a killer idea.
If you hit a wall, you may want to try other idea generation tools such as mind maps, freewriting or Fusion Cards (where two objects, thoughts or concepts are combined to form a new idea).
But don’t disregard questions too quickly.
Take “what if” questions. They have jaw-dropping power when correctly used. Think about the problem you are trying to solve or business interest and ask “what-if” questions like:
“What if we could come up with a knocked down version of (an existing product)?”
“What if we didn’t have to charge cell phones every day?”
“What if we could keep pools clean without chemicals?”
These questions help us to explore possibilities and may produce new insights. Generate a list of “what-if” questions, select one that holds promise and ask more “what-if” questions about it.
Ask “why-not” questions such as “why not offer a delivery service in town for less than any other company?” Write these questions for 10 minutes and see how many you can come up with. Evaluate them later.
Here’s another line of problem profitable questioning: Ask “How might we…?” An example: “How might we make pool cleaning more convenient?”
To build your questioning skills, identify a problem or challenge and write questions about it for 10 minutes every day for a week. As you write your questions, you’ll find new insights and ideas.
Try these question tools and almost overnight you’ll come up with ideas. But the most important question of all is: Will you try out these idea generation questions or lose the opportunity to generate a killer idea?