The Idea Accelerator: How to Solve Problems Faster Using Speed Thinking

The Idea Accelerator: How to Solve Problems Faster Using Speed Thinking

by Ken Hudson

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Overview

The Idea Accelerator: How to Solve Problems Faster Using Speed Thinking by Ken Hudson

A toolkit of 60 practical ways by which the reader can think faster to reach earlier decisions, without neglecting a conscious, deliberate, and reflective approach

Creating new ideas and growth opportunities is the lifeblood of any organization, but time to come up with new ideas is always an issue. This ultimate resource for the time-strapped presents 60 effective and practical speed thinking tools to generate new ideas quickly. There are tools for readers to use by themselves, with others, or to unlock the creativity of a team, and each one is simple to use and will help develop ideas and solve problems faster. This powerful handbook is perfect for business executives who might be running their own business, working in innovation, new product development, business development, sales, marketing, and advertising. The speed at which people in business need to process information, create new solutions, and make decisions has increased dramatically in recent years—with this guide, expect immediate results.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781741754889
Publisher: Allen & Unwin Pty., Limited
Publication date: 05/01/2011
Pages: 148
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Ken Hudson is the author of The Idea Generator and a management consultant who has worked with many leading brands, including Colgate, Disney, DuPont, Heinz, Kellogg's, Nestlé, Unilever, and Wrigley. He is the founder of The Idea Space, an innovative consulting business.

Read an Excerpt

The Idea Accelerator

How to Solve Problems Faster Using Speed Thinking


By Ken Hudson

Allen & Unwin

Copyright © 2008 Ken Hudson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-74176-485-7



CHAPTER 1

'Speed will help you bypass your Censor.'

Mark Bryan, Julia Cameron and Catherine Allen, The Artist's Way at Work

TEN SPEED THINKING TOOLS YOU CAN USE WITH DRAMATIC RESULTS

Tool 1 The 120-second challenge

Tool 2 The two-hourly re-challenge

Tool 3 Breathe in — breathe out

Tool 4 The Richard Branson boost

Tool 5 A letter a day

Tool 6 The 60-second challenge

Tool 7 The five senses

Tool 8 'Thank you'

Tool 9 Rapid drawing

Tool 10 Express emotions


TOOL * 1 The 120-second challenge

Whatever problem you are working on, try to crystallise it into one sentence or at most a paragraph.


Say the problem out loud to yourself. Then say 'start' or 'go' and give yourself 120 seconds to come up with as many different solutions or new ideas as you can. You should aim for at least nine. Just use a key word or an image to capture the idea.

The emphasis is on producing as many different solutions to the problem as you can. You will find you will not have time to evaluate if you want to get nine ideas down on paper.

The simple process of concentrating on increasing the number of ideas will decrease your rational, judging mind and enable you to access your intuition and imagination.

An extension of this tool is to think of nine radical ideas in 120 seconds. Do not be safe or incremental in your responses.


Application

The challenge: How can I ensure I arrive on time to all my appointments?

As quickly as you can in the next 120 seconds try to write down at least nine ways of meeting the above challenge — below is an example.

1 Put watch forward

2 Leave earlier

3 Only schedule morning meetings

4 Use a stop watch

5 Have a watch on each hand

6 Keep a clock in every room

7 Send warnings to myself

8 Have friends warn me

9 Change other people's watches


Now select and test the best ones.


TOOL * 2 The two-hourly re-challenge

The aim with this tool is to concentrate on one problem for the entire day.

Clarify the problem at the start of the day and take up the 120-second challenge, aiming to develop at least nine responses. Be sure to record the results.

Then move on to your other work. In two hours return to the original problem.

Allow yourself another 120 seconds to develop a new set of solutions.

There is only one rule: you must not repeat an idea.

This cycle should be repeated every two hours until you have at least 40 different ideas.

Then select the best ideas and try to test these quickly, easily and simply.


Application

Focus on one problem for the entire day. Develop five possible solutions every two hours. At the end of the day select the most original response and test it.

The problem:___________________________________

Date:__________________________________________


First two hours

1

2

3

4

5


Second two hours

1

2

3

4

5


Third two hours

1

2

3

4

5


Fourth two hours

1

2

3

4

5


TOOL * 3 Breathe in — breathe out

Concentrate all your mental energy on a specific problem.

Now close your eyes and really focus on your breath. Slow your breathing down and feel your chest move in and out.

Take two big breaths and open your eyes before you start.

On the third exhalation try to think of a new solution. Just write down one key thought.

From then on try to create a new idea with every second exhalation.

Try to do this for ten breaths and you will have five new ideas. This is also a very good tool to use with a partner as you take it in turns to solve a problem.

The important point with this exercise is for the breath to be calm and long, not shallow and short. This exercise will help to clear your mind and will often lower your stress levels.


Application

The challenge:________________________________

Breath one: Key thought:

Breath two: Key thought:

Breath three: Key thought:

Breath four: Key thought:

Breath five: Key thought:

Now select the best option and test it.


TOOL * 4 The Richard Branson boost

The concept behind this tool is for you to imagine yourself as someone who is renowned for their creativity or entrepreneurship.

Let's select Sir Richard Branson as an example, the founder of the Virgin group of companies. Select a problem and in 120 seconds you have to imagine how he might solve the problem. Remember you need at least nine solutions.

The next time you do this you can imagine how another person might solve the problem: it could be your boss, Oprah Winfrey or Albert Einstein.

Then try to play around with your ideas. Combine ideas number three and five, for instance, to create an even bigger idea. Or focus on developing one option selected at random, e.g. idea number seven.


Application

The challenge: How can I kick-start my career?

As quickly as you can in the next 120 seconds imagine Richard Branson as your coach. What would he advise? Here are some sample ideas.

1 Look outside of your industry

2 Go back to university

3 Open your own business

4 Look for a gap in the market

5 Talk to high- performing people

6 Take on a risky project

7 Move out of your comfort zone

8 Find poeple with money to back you

9 Be noticed

Now select the best option and test it.


TOOL * 5 A letter a day

The aim in this tool is to use a letter of the alphabet to help you solve a problem.

Make Monday the letter 'A' day, Tuesday the letter 'B' day, and so on.

After defining the problem try to think of as many different ways you can solve it using the letter 'A' in the next 120 seconds.

This is a very good tool to use when you are facing a particularly difficult problem and you feel stuck. It is also a good tool to use with a partner. Both work on the same problem for 120 seconds but you use the letter 'A', for example, and your partner must use the letter 'B'. The results may surprise you both.


Application

The challenge: How can I better manage my work–life balance?

As quickly as you can in the next 120 seconds try to create at least nine different possibilities using the letter 'A'.

1 Argue with my boss when he/she is making unfair demands

2 Acknowledge others who are trying to lead a more balanced life

3 Arrange meetings while commuting

4 Apple a day (i.e. watch my diet)

5 Apply time management principles

6 Always say not to weekend work

7 Assign work to others

8 Applaud (i.e. go and watch sport/live music)

9 Appreciate (i.e. time with family)

Now select the best option and test it.


TOOL * 6 The 60-second challenge

As you practise these tools you will become quicker and quicker.

After becoming proficient at the 120-second challenge try to decrease the time allowed for generating your nine ideas to 60 seconds.

Then move to 45 seconds.

If you find you can develop nine ideas in 45 seconds, go back to two minutes just as a test: it will seem like an eternity.

You will not have time to record a complete idea so just capture the essence of the idea in a key word or image.


Application

The challenge: How can I enjoy work more?

As quickly as you can in the next 60 seconds try to develop at least nine different possible ideas, as in the example below.

1 Create more fun

2 Live more each day

3 Sleep more

4 Follow my passion

5 Read about successful people

6 Discuss with my peers

7 Exercise

8 Smile

9 Ask my employees for ideas

Now select a couple and test them.


TOOL * 7 The five senses

We all have five senses:

• sight

• sound

• touch

• smell

• taste.


Yet in most circumstances we tend to be dominated by the sense of sight.

Try using one of your other senses. If you are designing a new product, for example, or want to enhance a customer experience consider the sense of smell. Can you imagine the smell of a South American jungle or a field in spring? How can you apply this aroma in your business?

For the next 120 seconds try to use one of your senses to add something new to your product or service. Go for as many different responses as you can imagine.


Application

The challenge: To develop a new kids breakfast cereal.

Imagine experiencing the world as a kid. What do you see, hear, touch, taste and smell?

Sight only: Key thoughts: e.g. rainbow colours

Sound only: Key thoughts: e.g. the noises of the playground

Touch only: Key thoughts: e.g. make it bumpy

Taste only: Key thoughts: e.g. explodes in the mouth

Smell only: Key thoughts: e.g. the fresh grass in the park


TOOL * 8 'Thank you'

With this tool try to develop new ways that the customer will say 'thank you' because your product or service is so good or you have solved a problem for them in a new and innovative way.

For example, being able to swap your investments around at will so that you always have the highest return might be something for which the customer will feel thankful. Or another might be if you lose your credit card and the company can have a new one to you within an hour.

Select a product or new business idea and set yourself the task of developing at least nine reasons for which a customer might say 'thank you'. This will help put you in the customer's shoes and therefore develop ideas based on their expectations.

An extension of this idea is to develop in 120 seconds at least nine reasons for which an employee, partner or supplier might say 'thank you'.


Application

The challenge: Recall the service you receive at a bank — what are nine reasons for which the customer might say 'thank you'?


Only take 120 seconds to complete the spaces below.

1 Know my name

2 Service with a smile

3 If I am in a hurry I am served first

4 Proactive advice

5 Saves me money

6 Do not charge a fee if I am a good customer

7 ATMs always operating

8 Simple products

9 Secret offers

Once you have completed this exercise, select one of the options at random and spend another 120 seconds on developing the raw idea. Or try combining a number of these to develop a bigger idea.


TOOL *9 Rapid drawing

Sometimes the best way to create a new solution or set of ideas is to draw them. This helps you to escape our language-based thinking system. It is true that a picture can replace a thousand words.

First define the problem. Then in the next 120 seconds draw the problem. Remember you only have 120 seconds so your drawing ability is not the issue. Draw something that might represent the problem. For example, if you want to represent a customer service issue you could draw a bird in a cage.

In the following 120 seconds draw a few possible solutions. Then work out what the images are trying to convey and how to make it happen.

This is also a very good exercise to do with a group as you can end up with a range of very different images or drawings. It is also an effective tool when you are dealing with a sensitive political issue as emotions can often be more richly expressed in images than words.


Application

Define the problem:_____________________________

Draw the problem in 120 seconds

Draw the solution in 120 seconds

Draw another solution in 120 seconds


TOOL * 10 Express emotions

Your emotions provide the pathway to your imagination. This tool encourages you to harness your emotions to solve problems in a new way.

Write down as many different emotions as you can think of in the next 120 seconds. For example: joy, sadness, love, happiness, fear, apathy etc.

Then select one of these at random, say the fourth one, to solve a problem at hand (see the example opposite).

You will be amazed at how quickly you can connect an emotion to the problem. In fact, the more unrelated the emotion to the problem the better.

Application

The challenge: How can I improve team spirit among the people in my department?

In the next 120 seconds write down as many different emotions as you can think of. Then select one emotion at random e.g. happiness. Develop at least nine ways happiness can help you address the challenge above.

1 Don't employ cynical people

2 Avoid unhappy people

3 Do more things that the group cares about

4 Learn some good jokes

5 Involve new employees

6 Say thank you more often

7 Start each meeting with a joke

8 Encourage social events

9 Play sport together

CHAPTER 2

'Feel confident that the first option you think of will usually be a good one.'

Gary Klein, The Power of Intuition

TEN SPEED THINKING TOOLS TO USE WHEN WORKING WITH A COLLEAGUE

Tool 1 The joint 120-second challenge

Tool 2 On a deadline — write a headline

Tool 3 The 120-second interview

Tool 4 Three big ideas

Tool 5 The 'moment of truth' narrative

Tool 6 The Godfather test

Tool 7 Overcoming barriers

Tool 8 Two minute risk-taking

Tool 9 Nine things I hate about my job

Tool 10 Nine things I feel passionate about


TOOL * 1 The joint 120-second challenge

This is an ideal starting tool when you are working with a partner or colleague.

First, agree on a joint problem.

Each person has 120 seconds to create at least nine new solutions. This should be done independently.

Then discuss your new ideas with each other. The best ideas should be evaluated and the top three decided upon.

Then develop at least nine ways you can build the top idea into a stronger one. Try doing this together.

Once you have built a strong concept, move on to the next high priority idea.


Application

The joint challenge: How can we improve our results at work?

Work by yourself, and as quickly as you can in the next 120 seconds write down at least nine ways of meeting the above challenge. Then discuss and agree on the best ideas and work these up using the same process. Try to combine thoughts e.g. take the number two and combine with number seven to build an even bigger idea.

1 Do more work

2 Hire a coach

3 Talk to a mentor

4 Try new things

5 Share what we learn

6 Give up work we do not enjoy

7 Ask more questions

8 Read related topics

9 Have lunch with the top performers


TOOL * 2 On a deadline — write a headline

Agree upon the problem with your partner, e.g. how can we encourage speed thinking throughout the organisation?

One person has to imagine themselves as an online reporter who has been given 120 seconds to write a headline on the new solution to your problem.

For example: If the problem is to encourage more people to think more quickly a possible headline might be 'Exciting News — IBM has employees who can think faster than its computers'.

Once the first person has written a number of headlines the second person must develop the headline into a more complete story. Try to do this quickly just using bullet points.

After you have developed the first headline and story, swap roles. Try to repeat three times each.


Application

The joint challenge: To ensure airlines leave on time.

Headline 1: 'Frequent Flyers Soar' Key story highlights: Frequent Flyers receive bonus points if they arrive early.

Headline 2 Key story highlights:

Headline 3 Key story highlights:


TOOL * 3 The 120-second interview

This tool builds upon the previous one. The aim in this tool is for each person to interview the other in 120 seconds about the problem.

First, agree upon the problem.

The clock then starts and both people independently write down as many different or unusual questions as they can think of about the problem itself.

They then take it in turns to interview one another.

Take note of the questions that you cannot answer and/or those questions that are original — these might be an area to really focus on.


Application

The joint challenge: To discover what is behind the success of many small businesses.

Your questions:
Possible interview questions:
• Can anyone run a successful small business?
• What did you do that didn't work?
• If you had your time over again what would you do differently?

Your partner's questions: Possible interview questions:
• How important is it to have your family behind you?
• How do you create your new ideas?
• Do you have time for your family?

What questions did you struggle with?


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Idea Accelerator by Ken Hudson. Copyright © 2008 Ken Hudson. Excerpted by permission of Allen & Unwin.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction,
1 Ten Speed Thinking tools you can use with dramatic results,
2 Ten Speed Thinking tools to use when working with a colleague,
3 Ten Speed Thinking tools to use when working in a group,
4 Ten Speed Thinking tools to build a bigger idea,
5 Ten Speed Thinking tools to help evaluate an idea,
6 Ten Speed Thinking tools to get started,
Conclusion,
Notes,
Further reading,

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