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10 Tips to successfully generate innovative ideas

Innovation starts with having good ideas and ideally a lot of them. Organizations cannot just sit around and wait for a stroke of luck to happen. They need to actively, continuously and systematically generate ideas to fill their innovation pipeline. Getting started is actually much easier than you’d think. Here are 10 tips to start building your pipeline of innovative ideas today.

#1 – Take time – People schedule time for things that they find important: for meetings, for having dinner with friends or for their favorite hobbies. Strangely enough, they hardly ever free up time for thinking. Schedule thinking time in your agenda: this is as much an activity as having a business meeting. And maybe even more important.

#2 – Change location – Business creativity and innovative thinking are all about new perspectives and breaking away from what we think we know. In this case it means very literally to change your physical location. Leave your office or your place of work and go somewhere else where you are freed from everyday (work)life and will not be disturbed. Doing things the same way as we have done them before will not lead to a different outcome.


#3 – Have focus – In most cases, thinking without direction will not lead to anything. Either your thoughts will be all over the place, or you will experience a form of mental paralysis facing a blank sheet. It is bound to become a disappointing experience. You must scope the domain that you want to work on; box it in, fence it off. Is it a specific product or one of the product’s components? Will you be working on your channels or your customer relationships? It doesn’t matter how you scope it, as long as you constrain your thinking by having a specific focus.

#4 – Think big – People tend to be modest in their thinking which results in equally modest ideas. Innovation is about creating value for your business. Don’t think too small: stretch your imagination and think big. Don’t be shy. And even if your big idea isn’t right, the chance of finding a valuable small idea hidden inside it is much bigger than the other way around. Plus, it’s much easier to scale down a big idea than to scale up a small idea.

#5 – Collaborate – How different are the ideas you […]

By |November 1st, 2016|2016, Blog|1 Comment

The 2nd of 5 Dominant Patterns in Innovation – Task Unification

Defy the Voice of the Customer, the traditional cornerstone of Marketing and Innovation, and consider the power of the Voice of the Product instead.

In Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT) we turn traditional customer-centric thinking upside down and we focus on the existing product. We center our thinking around the existing situation and systematically manipulate it to generate new ideas. Only after we have found an idea, we look for potential customer demand. With a possible solution in hand, we research patterns of customer behavior, tension points or unmet needs. We start with a solution and then identify the problem.

When we talk about the existing situation, we not only consider products, but also services, processes and business models. For simplicity sake, we will use the term “product” in our examples.

The existing situation is considered in its immediate environment, the imaginary box, or, as the founders of the method call it, the Closed World. A product only becomes meaningful and adds value in the context in which it is used. To illustrate this, imagine a simple product: a screwdriver. In the immediate environment of the screwdriver we could find a picture frame that needs hanging, a wall, screws, a toolbox with other tools, and a person. This is what we consider the Closed World of the screwdriver. We will talk more about this in upcoming posts, but the basic concept will suffice for now.

The pattern that we will discuss today is called Task Unification. In this approach, an existing resource of a product gets an additional task that was previously carried out by something else. Let’s have a look at a few examples.


Have you ever noticed how much waste is left behind in the park after a picnic? This makes parks look unattractive, it can cause health issues and it is a general concern for park management. CleanPicnic has created a picnic blanket that people can pick up for free at the entrance of the park. It not only serves as a nice picnic blanket, but it is designed in such a way that it can also be used as a waste bag to collect all waste after the picnic. The picnic blanket has been given the additional task of collecting waste.


Another great example of Task Unification is the Defender 24/7. This is a new personal protection system that not only takes down the attacker with […]

By |October 21st, 2016|2016, Blog|0 Comments

The 1st of 5 Dominant Patterns in Innovation – Subtraction

Up to 70% of successful innovations can be explained by a mere five fundamental underlying patterns.

Scientific research has led to identifying these five patterns and the development of an ideation method called Systematic Inventive Thinking, or SIT. The method has proven to be very valuable to companies around the world and many new products, services and business models have been generated by its users.

In this series of articles we will explain each of the five patterns illustrated with many examples and we will discuss the underlying principles of the method. Applied systematically, the approach will help you generate creative ideas for innovation on-demand.

When thinking about innovation, people generally like to add functionality to a device or complement a business model with extra services. Even though this approach had led to great new products and services, it typically generates only incremental benefits that come at substantial costs. One of the five dominant patterns in innovation is about doing the exact opposite. We call this pattern Subtraction.

The Subtraction technique is all about removing components from a product, a service or a business model. By eliminating something from the existing product configuration, we are creating a new product that could generate value. So we take away a component of the product, but not just any component. Not just a little screw of a machine or a single TV channel in a cable service. No, we remove something essential, something that we have always considered fundamental.

Think about a kitchen stove for a moment. What would be the most essential component of this product? The gas burners, right? Now let’s boldly remove those. That’s what we do when we apply the Subtraction technique.

When we use any of the five SIT-patterns, we always start by creating a list of the essential components of the product. Then we select a component and mentally remove it from the product. What we get is a virtual product, in our case a “gas burner-less kitchen stove”. The next step is to consider the potential benefits that this virtual product could have for our customers, for a specific market segment or in a certain geography. What problems could it potentially solve? If we do find benefits, it means that our virtual product has potential value and we can take it a step further. If we do not find any benefits, we simply move on, select another component […]

By |October 17th, 2016|2016, Blog|0 Comments

The 5 dominant patterns in Innovation

What does the majority of successful innovations have in common? Desirability, uniqueness, functionality? Perhaps. But did you know that these innovations are based on just five distinctive underlying patterns? That’s correct, only a handful of patterns accounts for the largest chunk of innovations that have achieved success in the marketplace.

Does that mean that creative ideas and innovations are predictable? To a certain extent they are.

So, if systematic patterns can be found in up to 70% of successful innovations, why not actively apply those very patterns in the process of idea generation for innovation? That would make perfect sense. Not only does this generate a lot of new and creative ideas, it also implies that the new ideas for products, services or business models that we come up with, ultimately will have a higher likelihood of successful market introduction.

Ground-breaking academic research has led to identifying these five patterns and the development of an ideation method called Systematic Inventive Thinking, or SIT. The method has proven to be very valuable to companies around the world and many new products, services and business models have been generated by its users.

The method is intuitive and counter-intuitive at the same time, it’s easy to use and it generates great results if applied systematically and rigorously. Even on a Monday morning at 8 am. Imagine how that could impact your organization!

In the upcoming articles we will explain each of the five patterns illustrated with many examples and we will discuss the underlying principles of the method. To give you a taste of what’s ahead, here are the five patterns and some real-life examples to help bring them alive.



Check out this example of the Subtraction pattern here




Check out this example of the Division pattern here




Check out this example of the Multiplication pattern here


Task Unification

defender 24/7

Check out this example of the Task Unification pattern here


Attribute Dependency


Check out this example of the Attribute Dependency pattern here

FlyWheel Business is expert on Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT). Interested to […]

By |October 10th, 2016|2016, Blog|0 Comments

Creativity Consulting & Systematic Inventive Thinking

Fragment of interview on Creativity and Innovation Consulting with Rotterdam School of Management/Erasmus University ( as part of the Innovatio

By |September 29th, 2016|2016, video|0 Comments

Clay Christensen on the recent debate surrounding his theory of disruptive innovation.

Harvard Business Review Editor-in-Chief Adi Ignatius sat down with renowned author and professor Clayton Christensen this week, in a live webinar event t

By |September 27th, 2016|2016, News|0 Comments

Amsterdam to get driverless ‘Roboats’ on Canals

Researchers hope the raft-like vessels will carry people, measure pollution and even help fish bicycles from city canals.

By |September 22nd, 2016|2016, News|0 Comments

Start building an Innovation Pipeline

In a Sales process, a new customer develops through the different stages of a Sales pipeline. It generally moves from the so-called suspect stage into a more promising prospect stage and it finally becomes your new customer. It’s a controlled process with predictive value. The same pipeline principle can be applied to creativity and innovation.

Let’s have a look at the development from an idea into a product. The Innovation Pipeline gets filled with all creative ideas that the organization generates. Some of these ideas turn out to have less potential than others. The most promising ideas are selected and move on to a new stage where they are developed into concepts. Some of the concepts may not meet commercial, financial or other important requirements. These concepts don’t move on and they are shelved. Finally, the concepts that are likely to create the most value for the organization are being introduced in the market.

Introducing an Innovation Pipeline is of great benefit to an organization to control, predict and measure the innovation process.



Having an Innovation Pipeline in place allows an organization to actively manage the process and it offers the company an integral overview of the entire innovation cycle. We never know whether new market introductions will indeed become successful, but the number and type of ideas in the different stages of the Innovation Pipeline allow an organization to predict the creation of value for the business. The further an idea develops in the pipeline, the higher the probability of market introduction. As the potential value for each concept has been estimated, a company can start making forecasts.

As the Innovation Pipeline is a controlled process, it allows the organization to measure its success. The company can introduce KPI’s and thus keep track of performance, giving the company a steering mechanism. The company can use this to take specific actions in order to improve the performance of the process.

This pipeline principle is a very helpful starting point to think about your own innovation process. Where do the ideas that flow into the pipeline come from? How does our company organize ideation? Do we generate enough ideas? Based on what criteria do we select ideas for further concept development? How do we allocate our resources and budgets? Etc, etc.

Let the Innovation Pipeline help you improve your business and generate more value!


© […]

By |March 24th, 2016|2016, Blog|0 Comments

Constraints are a source of opportunity for innovation

When it comes to creativity and innovation, our clients or managers often ask us to Think outside the box and to consider everything. This way of thinking supposedly generates superior ideas. Thinking outside the box is still a very popular concept and it makes us feel like the sky is the limit.

However, studies show that Thinking outside the box does not generate more and better ideas. Moreover, when people are given a blank page they often feel blocked and sometimes even feel fear. People experience the paralysis of choice. Where to start? What to do? What not to do?

Psychological research tells us that constraining our thought processes actually stimulates creativity. It may sound counter-intuitive that we become more creative when our thinking is constrained. But it’s true. When we create our own box of constraints, thinking inside that box helps us become more creative.

A lack of resources is perhaps one of the most common forms of constraints. What typically happens if we have only a few resources to work with? We have less choice and need to think of new ways to use what we have. Extremely constrained situations in which people can find themselves, such as great poverty, imprisonment or war, show just how creative people can become.

Many industries have a high degree of regulation. The constraint formed by regulation limits a company’s actions but at the same time it often offers room for opportunity. Often when regulation changes or additional regulation is imposed, new commercial initiatives are introduced and new companies enter the marketplace.


Voluntary constraints also trigger creativity. In 1960, his publisher Random House bet Theodor Geisel that he couldn’t write a children’s book using only fifty unique words. Talking about constraints: just fifty words! Under his pseudonym Dr Seuss, Geisel published Green Eggs and Ham, using exactly fifty different words. Kids love this book and it became the fourth best-selling children’s book ever.

Another more recent example is Twitter, a very successful $ 24 billion dollar company whose traditional product is very constrained. Twitter forces its users to use 140 characters or less for their tweets. By constraining the number of characters, people are forced to express themselves more creatively.

We need to foster constraints to generate highly creative ideas and to become successful in innovation. Constraints come in different forms and shapes: strategic […]

By |January 18th, 2016|2016, Blog|0 Comments

Stop gambling with the future of your company: take control of innovation

Three important prerequisites for successful innovation

Can you honestly imagine anyone saying: “We are relying on our product managers to have a Eureka moment” or “we are just waiting to get lucky”? No way! But yet, this is often reality when it comes to innovation.

Popular well-known products came about by some stroke of luck. Pure serendipity. The seeming abundance of examples on the internet conceals the fact that this is only an insignificant minority of innovations. Organizations can’t just rely on luck as their source of innovation. The future of a company must not depend on it. Moreover, it really is gambling with the future of your company.


Companies must take control of innovation. Evidence shows that companies that are most successful at innovation have taken control by approaching it in an integrated and structural way. Here are three of the most important prerequisites for successful innovation:

First, companies need a reliable and continuous stream of innovative ideas that can be brought to the market at regular intervals. Having this pipeline of ideas in place, makes innovation much more predictable. Similar to managing customers through different stages of maturity in a Sales funnel, ideas are being managed from their rudimentary form, through concepts until market introduction.

The second prerequisite is that innovation must include the entire organization. It’s not just the job of the product managers or the Marketing department to generate these new ideas. It should be the job of truly everybody in the company: from the receptionist to the CFO. Innovation must not be the exclusive domain of a specific group of people. Involving everybody creates ownership and stimulates commitment. Furthermore, it helps generate more and better ideas.

Will everybody in the company just be thinking outside the box and freely brainstorming ideas? Even though this may generate ideas that have potential value, it leads to idea-anarchy. Constraining the process of idea generation is the third prerequisite for successful innovation. Adding constraints forces us to think inside the box, which makes us more creative and more innovative.

Regain control of your innovation. Adopt a structured and integrated approach.


© Ernst-Jan van Batenburg, FlyWheel Business

Please check out for more information on our innovation & consulting services. Get in touch or follow us…

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FlyWheel Business, Accelerating Innovation.


By |January 18th, 2016|2016, Blog|0 Comments