Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Why don’t our leaders say – We should imagine more!

You routinely hear leaders asking their staff to innovate or think out of the box.  But frankly won’t they  be better off asking their staff to imagine more.   Why?  Since imagination is the key and sometimes the only way to innovate truly.  But that is easier said than done.  Imagination is a skill which needs to be developed especially since for most of the time in the adult world, we have spent being a realist and we are generally criticised for imagining or dreaming about things.

The best way to see imagination in its purest form is in children.  Observe closely the next time your child or his friends play.  They have no boundaries, they are not scared of being laughed at, they don't know what is possible and what is not and hence they can imagine freely.  As for the majority of us, we will be lucky if we could be spared some time in this state before we are brought down to our practical world.

So what can we do?  Suggest we set aside dedicated time for imagination sessions every week at our offices.  What do we do in these sessions?  Here are some thoughts to get you started.  Once you get in the flow of things, sky is really the limit.

1. Ask folks to imagine how their product will be used by consumers in the future.
2. Imagine how new features for your product will be used by your customers
3. Imagine a world where your product is not present.  How does the customer satisfy the need that your product caters to?
4. Come up with at least 10 non-traditional uses of your product.  The product should not have been designed with this use in mind.
5. Imagine how you will sell your product to somebody who does not understand your language.

I think you get the drift.  These exercises are not important and there are no right answers. But it is very important for your team members to start visualising and letting their imagination fly again.  Ensure that criticism is not allowed and reward the most revolutionary thoughts. Over a period of time, your staff should be able to imagine freely again and then the true magic of innovation can happen.

Happy Innovating! I mean happy Imagining!