If you're anything like me, when the pressure is on to innovate, you can easily get stuck. It's not that you don't want to innovate, it's simply that pressure starts locking your brain down to the point where the more pressure you feel the dumber you become. Maybe it's just me. I'm not calling you dumb, but I am saying that if you get stuck when the pressure is on, I have a way to get unstuck that may help.
It's not about being creative
Most people like to think of innovation as a fundamentally creative activity. I don't completely agree. Instead, I've found that a set of templates – strategies, if you will – can help innovate without having to sit in a room forced to be creative.
Here's one Example
Let's look at a proximity linking template. In this template of product innovation, what you're going to do is look for products that are near each other and you'll link them. While this is a simple approach to product innovation, it's led to some seriously fun products that have found their way into the market. My favorite, of course, is the Television/VCR combo—which was soon followed with the Television/DVD combo.
I'm not sure anyone will create a Television/XBox combo but it wouldn't shock me since Google is trying to create smarter televisions.
What you notice is that people buy TVs and they often buy VCRs (or did), and then they have to go thru the work of connecting them. If you're like me, it means you were not only called to do it for every combo in your home but also at your parent's home.
So would I pay a bit more to combine the two so I could give my folks a television/DVD combo? You bet. And that's how the proximity linking template works.
Want Four More Examples?
I want to walk you through four more product innovation strategies and I promise not to take more than 20 minutes of your time. So click on the play button on that first sound clip – “linking strategies” and you should be able to listen to all four strategies, one after another, in this soundcloud player.