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Innovation: 7 tips for generating new ideas


Innovation is simply doing or making something differently to meet a perceived need or gap in the marketplace. Innovation is not merely doing something differently for difference's sake. Therefore innovation can happen in any industry that uses a procedure that can be changed.

Generally, innovation involves creative thinking that escapes from a traditional viewpoint. It can be difficult when you're very familiar with something to see it in another way. So several techniques have evolved to help you in this process.

Usually the first chore is to take a good look at your product or service field and break it down into components. This is a creative thinking process called attribute listing. Simply list attributes of your industry, such as process and price.


Once you have listed all the attributes of your industry, and your particular part of it, you might want to gather associates and brainstorm. The most common idea-generating technique is SCAMPER:

  1. Substitute something
  2. Combine it with something else
  3. Adapt something to it
  4. Modify or magnify it
  5. Put it to some other use
  6. Eliminate something
  7. Reverse or rearrange it

To use this technique, first isolate the problem or subject, then ask questions about each of the attributes. List all the results of the brainstorming and cluster them into common areas. Then pick which area is the most likely candidate for innovation.

Remember, you want an achievable innovation. Look for sideways steps instead of revolutionary upheavals, which may be exciting but are unlikely to resonate with customers or end-users.