The ICE Toolbox for Alternative Thinking
The innovation of new products and services seems to be on the agenda of nearly all organizations. Organizations need to be more innovative and creative in order to survive in today’s business environment which is increasingly complex and uncertain. Furthermore, only continuous innovation and development of new products and services could guarantee a competitive advantage. Also, product innovation and creativity are defined as the driving factors to understand customer needs and to reach customer satisfaction. With client expectations rising and competition increasing, those days are gone to rely on a handful of people for creative ideas and successful implementations. Today, whole teams need to sharpen their creative skills, that is, turn creative ideas into groundbreaking outputs and generate innovative solutions in work situations.
This article on creative thinking and innovation management identifies three interrelated tools that an innovator could use for gaining a creative edge: the Invert tool, the Converge tool, and the Eliminate tool. Hereby referring to the framework involving these three tools as the ICE Toolbox for Alternative Thinking to strengthen the creativity in your organization.
The ICE toolbox for Alternative Thinking consists of these three tools proposed to promote continuous innovation and creativity in the organizations that lead to more affirm solutions. The tools in the ICE toolbox are very useful when are running out of ideas. There are no hard-and-fast rules about the sequential flow to follow while moving from each of these tools and can move among these tools without restricting a specific flow. The ICE toolbox for Alternative Thinking framework is also very effective during whole team brainstorming, ideas generation, finding solutions for problem-solving, and so on. Applying these tools helps you to probe with divergent thoughts, encourage new ways of thinking, and formulate lateral thinking capabilities.
Applying the Inverse Tool
The Inverse or reorganize tool sought to investigate the creative potential of the production line while changing the order of the procedure. Inversing the basic objective of a product/process or a part of it to check whether arriving at the solutions to the problems or achieving desired results. When applying the Inverse tool, some of these typical questions you may ask to yourself or to the team, to generate ideas: 1) Can a set of steps in the process be inverted? 2) Can a function be inverted for the same result? and 3) Can a basic assumption about the product be inverted? For example, the Tom and Jerry series is so popular because Jerry’s (mouse) cleverness and cunning abilities never lets Tom (cat) to catch, which is quite unusual in reality.
Applying the Converge Tool
The Converge tool attempts to examine the possibility of converging two concepts, process stages or product into a single more productive output. Converging two creative ideas can in some cases lead to a new product or technology that leads to market strength. You don’t have to come up with anything entirely different most of the time because the solution(s) actually already exists. One idea may not always work alone, but several ideas, processes, or products could be converged into more efficient output. When applying this Converge tool, some of these typical questions you may ask to yourself or to the team, to generate open innovation: 1) Can synergy built here? 2) Can these processes be converged at the same time? 3) What processes, tools, individuals, or products can I combine to generate innovation? For example, Open source software is developed by many people, which can be used by anyone for any purpose.
Applying the Eliminate Tool
To those who know about Lean principles, the elimination might sound familiar. Eliminate various parts of a product or task in a service with the aim of streamlining them. It also helps to explore the project’s unnecessary pieces. In our experience, we would have encountered unnecessary processes or resources in a project or service lead to overheads or impedes desired results. Applying the Eliminate tool to eliminate such inefficient processes or resources is needed, which can also archive creativity and innovation. When applying this Eliminate tool, some of these typical questions you may ask to yourselves or to the team: 1) Can a non-beneficial component in a product be eliminated? 2) What happened if we remove this? 3) Can we achieve the same output without following some steps in a procedure? For example, in a self-driving car, eliminate the driver itself and yet achieves the desired result.
In sum, nurturing innovation and creative thinking in the development teams will have significant impact on the performance of the organizations. The ICE toolbox for Alternative Thinking framework is one of the direct and easy-to-use methods for alternative thinking and problem solving through a number of tools. Finally, creativity starts with you. It’s your challenge to create an ecosystem where individuals feel comfortable and engaged, able to take new or different ideas into account to puzzle-out the today’s business challenges.