A study of innovators – people who come up with brilliant, game-changing ideas – found that the skills of associating, questioning, observing, experimenting and discovering makes the difference. Although it’s implied in questioning and perhaps observing, I would add listening as a key skill.
Innovators put together ideas and information in unique combinations. They connect or link information and observation in new ways.
They act differently which means that they observe actively, make contact with people they wouldn’t normally talk to and improve their questioning skills.
Key to idea generation – become an observer
Becoming an observer to watch or look for ideas means observing how we and other people do things. Being a good observer allows us to recognise problems before other people do, so we can come up with solutions faster.
The more we observe, the more opportunities we will find for new ideas and solutions that will help us to come up with winning ideas.
Write down the ideas you observe in one place so that you can go over them and find connections.
Active observation involves taking nothing for granted, looking at what people normally do, observing details that are overlooked but which may spark ideas.
Exposing yourself to a variety of different places is a source for spotting things that you would not ordinarily see. If you’re exposed to the same routine and places day in and day out, what chances do you have of seeing something new and different?
To build your observation skills, find a place that will help you better understand the issues that people have to deal with. The place you choose may be a shopping mall, a supermarket, a main street, a prospective customer’s premises or outdoors.
Make sure you look for complaints, problems, issues people find difficult to do, their jobs or tasks, waiting too long for something, not able to find what they are looking for. Spot what’s working and what isn’t.
Observation is one of the top skills for coming up with new business ideas. It’s not that difficult to do. We are all observers from birth. All you need do is to make your observation more deliberate and focused.