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Excerpts & Ideas from Reframe: Shift the Way You Work, Innovate, and Think

30Oct

Last week we covered how using a different lens to look at a problem can help you better discover opportunity spaces. We believe that using tools like an empathy map and our own Problempathy Map™ will help add perspective to your point of view and can help get you in the right mindset for ideation. This week we will take you beyond brainstorming and into how we’ve used our experience as a UX firm to help clients and the the broader public through the recent publication of Reframe: Shift the Way You Work, Innovate, and Think.

We will be highlighting the Reframework process through a series of posts on the Innovation Channel in an effort to spread this way of thinking. The key to these techniques, however, is to trust in the process, so follow us from the beginning as we cover all of the steps every Friday for the upcoming weeks all leading up to the Chief Innovation Summit in NYC on December 8-9. I hope to see you there!

All companies want to be known for innovation—from increased research and development budget to swanky innovation labs. How do you make sure your efforts—and dollars—will lead to actual advancements?

According to an October 2014 business R&D and innovation survey from the National Science Foundation, companies spent $302 billion on research and development in the United States in 2012, a 2.8% increase from the $294 billion spent in 2011.

Creativity and innovation are processes, and big budgets don’t necessarily lead to huge, market-changing ideas. I think everyone has a creative muscle that can be strengthened to generate better results, regardless of the monetary investment. Imagine if all it took to create a better world through innovation was a little creative conditioning?

Inspired by this thought, we find ourselves at the third stop of the Reframework, “ask what if”. This step is crucial to process and only takes nine minutes to complete. Now let’s discuss the one rule during this step: Don’t judge. Don’t judge others, the ideas, or yourself. Some will sound stupid, but that’s not the point—the point is to release yourself from the usual rules and to open your mind to think creatively. Push yourself to come up with as many ideas as you can, and to think about the problem in more than just one way.

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In a three-minute session, write as many "What If" questions as you can. Don't worry about whether it's possible or not—write it down. Then after the three minutes, share them. The more people the better. When you share, it sparks additional ideas. Now, do two more three-minute rounds. Expand on ideas or get even crazier in your thinking.

Just think, with a small team of six people you can easily come up with over 100+ ideas. Levering this combined effort will prove extremely effective in the steps to come. But as I mentioned before, not all these ideas are that great, more specifically most of them don’t fulfill the needs of the business. Keeping this in mind, the following step goes hand-in-hand with asking what if and I call this step Funnel Vision™.

With all your ideas laid out in front of you (more than likely in the form of sticky notes), you read each one back to yourself and ask yourself the following questions:

Do I love this idea?

Does it meet my business needs?

Does it show empathy for my end user?

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Once you’ve processed all your ideas, all that typically remains are a few sticky notes with ideas that will transform themselves into an executable plan at the end of the Reframework. If you’re working with your team, then there will be a few for each person which gets mapped out on the HOW WOW matrix (see below). This tool is used to help you organize your ideas and show you just how easy it would be to execute your idea, and how much delight it would bring to your end users if you did.

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Once you have everyone’s ideas mapped out you’re done right? The thing is these ideas are mapped out for a reason, from this matrix themes will be pulled out and will be used to further enhance the thoughtfulness of what your team will be building. We’re halfway through the Reframework, and I hope that you’re giving these techniques a shot. Stay tuned as I help you bring your ideas to life and show you just how creative you can be.

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