There is no such thing as a truly original idea. – David Kord Murray
Great thinkers throughout history have understood this and used it to their advantage.
Connecting to and building on other people’s ideas and insights can compensate you better than the exclusivity of building something from scratch. Why try to come up with an original idea when someone else has already done the hard work for you? All great innovators cast a wide net to incite creative thought by looking beyond their category and into analogous organizations around the world.
Good ideas are everywhere, but only you can make them relevant to your world.
Debra Kaye, author of Red Thread Thinking, calls this process World Mining. She encourages us to mine deeply to:
- Seek external inspiration internationally from other companies’ successes, from outside experts, and from creative consumers
- Identify valued benefits delivered by analogous categories that speak to potential brand promises, brand characteristics, or product experience
- Review innovative products that are changing competitive landscapes in other categories
- Assess new technology as a basis for interest
David Kord Murray espouses a similar train of thought in his book Borrowing Brilliance. It will challenge you as it examines the evolution of a creative idea. It also offers practical advice, taking the reader step-by-step through Murray’s unique thought process. Here are the six steps:
- Defining – define the problem you’re trying to solve
- Borrowing – Borrow ideas from places with a similar problem
- Combining – Connect and combine these borrowed ideas
- Incubating – Allow the combinations to incubate into a solution
- Judging – Identify the strength and weakness of the solution
- Enhancing – Eliminate the weak points while enhancing the strong ones
Read a quick summary of the six steps here. You can also get more information here.
Any pool of ideas or existing assets, no matter how divergent from your own organization, can unlock new and even revolutionary areas of discovery and innovation.
The key to finding and borrowing rich resources is becoming attuned to the environment and seeing beyond what’s in front of you, whether you’re just an engaged consumer or looking at other cultures.
Set yourself on the lookout for threads and connections when you observe your surroundings, ask yourself questions, and free your mind.
Somebody probably made it first – it’s up to you to make it better.
Red Thread Thinking, by Debra Kay with Karen Kelly
Borrowing Brilliance, by David Kord Murray