Innovation Cueing

Ideas for free

Edvard Munch -The Sun- via google art project

Charles Babbage (1791–1871) is known as the “grandfather” of the modern computer. He created machines for calculating called the “Difference Engines” and “Analytical Engines” both precursors to the modern computer.

These machines provided computational data by turning numbered wheels (numbered 0 to 9) and by manipulating studs placed into different locations that allowed the operator to enter a code or set of instructions.

Babbage first conceived of his Difference Engine in 1821. In 1836 he used innovation cueing for his Analytical Engine when he adapted the idea of punch cards with sequences of instructions for input control.

This parallel concept (punch cards for input) was invented by Frenchman Jacques de Vaucanson in the 1700’s and developed and improved by Joseph Jacquard to input design control in cloth looms. This allowed automatic control of intricate design patterns in the cloth.

Later, Herman Hollerith used punched cards for tabulating results on the 1890 United States Census (in 1924 he merged his tabulating machine company with others and formed International Business Machines, today more commonly known as IBM).

Successful innovations anywhere can be used as cues prompting you to think of ideas that can be transferred to your business. Essential design mechanisms are functioning within superficial features of an idea, and it is this essence of an idea that can signal you and point towards a parallel application.

Ask yourself why products or services are successful with people? What is happening? While using reserved judgment, identify and record any of these specific actions or behavioral triggers leading to the discovery of a parallel application in line with your goals.

German Engineers Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach together developed and sold the first practical automobile in 1892 (fellow German Karl Benz received a patent for an automobile design in 1886).

Daimler and Maybach’s engine used a new carburetor design that injected a fine mist spray, resulting in better combustion. Maybach had used innovation cuing when he saw his wife’s spray perfume atomizer and applied the parallel idea in the carburetor. (Today the company is known as Mercedes Benz).

Even some features on other products outside your industry can be transferred directly to your unique product. Same thing for services. Just consider how American Airlines’ idea called “frequent flier miles” has been used in so many other services.

By being totally open-mined and maintaining reserved judgment, you may be able to adapt an idea on a product to a service, or vice versa.

Taplast is a Povolaro, Italy creator of plastic pumps, dosing devices, and dispensive closures. They supply clients worldwide such as Lever, Loreal, and Revlon.

Their history of innovation starts in 1968 when the founder invented and patented a tube cap that also could pierce the top (multiple use design feature). In 1974 they innovated a tamper evident cap (inviolability feature). In 1979 came the pump cap (innovation in delivery), and in 1983 the childproof cap (user specific benefit). In 1991 they innovated the dosing device cap for liquids (precise measurement) and in 1997 it was the all-plastic color cap (design trends).

1. multiple use

2. inviolability

3. delivery

4. user specific

5. precise measurement

6. design trends

These are six different ideas of essence that can be applied in some way to your product or service.

Innovation cuing offers a systematic and guaranteed way to successfully mine for new ideas. The key features are a tolerance for ambiguous relationships and using reserved judgment to get these parallel concepts.

Write or record as many cues as you can, even though they might not seem perfectly beneficial. Write these down anytime you think of the cue or you may forget it because of its ambiguous nature.

English philosopher John Locke said “The thoughts that come often unsought, and, as it were, drop into the mind, are the most valuable of any we have, and therefore should be secured, because they seldom return again.”

Mother Nature is a good place to look for directions to your winning idea. Velcro™ was created when a man hiking noticed the little burrs from a plant were sticking to his socks.

You must train yourself to accept the key features of tolerance for ambiguity and reserved judgement. Then, you can look anywhere, and if you systematically use innovation cuing you are automatically going to find great ideas.




No Matter What People Tell You, Words And Ideas Can Change The World.

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William H. Barr

William H. Barr

William H. Barr has devoted his life to the study of the psychological phenomena of creativity and innovation. Author of Possible: A Guide for Innovation.

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