Techniques to Stimulate Innovation

Innovation is an area that every product manager from every organization wanted to focus on and hear more about. Trying to stimulate innovation is challenging especially when you don't have the proper resources to back or develop some of the ideas.  I recently attended a meetup for the Boston Product Management Association and we talked about how to start a program like this.  I learned a few key things:
  • Innovation doesn’t always have to be in the form of a new product
  • Adequate resourcing and management support seemed to be what made most innovation teams or projects successful. 
Focusing on what new customers want instead of what existing customers are demanding should be the primary focus for an innovation team, especially when trying to come up with new products.  Here are some suggestions for how to start thinking about innovation with your team:
  • Host innovation sessions in the afternoon, ideally after lunch. Surprisingly, people are more creative when they are tired. Check out this article from Harvard Business Review.
  • Take a shower! Take a shower? Read more why our best ideas come to us in the shower by reading Your Creative Brain, written by Harvard University researcher and psychologist Shelley H. Carson.
  • Have a contest with your department or business unit to come up with innovative ideas for products. Take a Friday afternoon, order some pizza and beer, and grab a whiteboard. You'll be surprised with what ideas come out of it.
What do you and your teams do to stimulate innovation?  Do these seem like good ideas?

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