The notion that the best ideas come from organized brainstorms is an outdated fallacy. Ask leaders how they come up with their groundbreaking ideas and you’ll hear everything from “in the shower” or “at the gym” to “looking totally outside of our industry” and “getting out of the office and meeting someone new.” The common thread is that inspiration strikes people in different ways at different, and often unexpected, times.
As the CEO of an innovation-training firm, futurethink, I’ve worked with thousands of business leaders, and I can unequivocally say that it’s possible to unleash creativity with purpose—and without constraints—in an office context.
Companies like BMW, Kraft, P&G, Airbnb, and Novartis frequently go beyond standard brainstorming sessions and use a range of techniques to develop new ideas. These innovative companies take a methodical yet varied set of approaches to ideation, which can be categorized in the following five ways: