Most people have incorrect assumptions about creativity. They think you either have it or you do not. Many people think new ideas just happen, serendipitously—but creativity is not mysterious. Everyone can (and should) become more creative.
Is your organization on auto-pilot? Does your company do the same thing year after year? Does your company announce new products at the same time, attend the same trade shows, use the same marketing tactics, engage with customers the same way you did in 1998, or use the same software that you bought from the 1990s? If your answer is yes to these questions, you need to wake up!
Product managers need to interact with multiple departments and work with cross-functional teams. We are required to understand a multitude of skills, tools, and techniques to successfully perform day-to-day job requirements. Our skill-set balances marketing, engineering, information technology (IT), and manufacturing. We move from understanding nuances of customer insights to ensuring products are equipped with features that deliver high-valued benefits. Then, our winning features and benefits need to be clearly communicated to customers.
A great method to drive innovation throughout the organization is to constantly search for alternative ways of doing business. A key part of the de Bono Thinking Systems is the use of alternatives. Creativity is about finding alternatives, different ways of doing things. Too often we are satisfied with the current state and avoid any effort for improvement. Before we realize it, our sales are declining and customers are moving to our competitors. We should always be looking for new ways to improve a product, process, or business operation. Not just when problems occur or during special situations, but always, every day!
Product managers need many different skills to succeed. However, five key skills all product managers need to excel at are writing, market research, creative thinking, storytelling, and critical thinking. This blog discusses these five skills and provides some great resources to help build your skills. When you become a lifelong learner, you will have a great time changing yourself, your organization and community.
Parallel thinking. Lateral thinking. Random word. Six thinking hats. These are just a few of the theories and tools developed by Dr. Edward de Bono. Dr. de Bono is one of the foremost authorities on creative thinking. He was born in Malta in 1933 and is a PdD in medicine. After practicing and researching medicine, he moved to how humans think and create new ideas.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but brainstorming is not very effective for developing new ideas. Most research on idea generation has shown brainstorming typically does not result in valuable ideas (Schirr, 2012). Most brainstorms are usually just a group of people haphazardly sharing ideas (Jones, 1995). Even with all the research on the flaws of brainstorming, it is still widely used in most organizations (Sutton & Hargadon, 1996).
Developing creative ideas to build innovative solutions requires changing perspectives and looking at the world through different lenses. Edward deBono coined the term “lateral thinking” to describe a way of thinking which leads to a wide-range of insights for developing creative ideas. Lateral thinking is a great skill to acquire to ensure a holistic view of issues and foster innovation. It helps us answer the question, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Vertical thinking is how most of us see the world. It is typically a structured process which looks for a defined answer through sequential steps. Each step must be relevant to the previous to move forward. The focus is on finding the correct answer and typically avoids creativity and experimentation. Vertical thinking is about analysis and judging ideas.
Ants do it. Bees do it. Wolves do it. Even German U-boats in WWII did it. Swarming. Swarming is a great tactic to overwhelm competitors. The use of small units which simultaneously attack competitors from multiple directions is at the heart of swarming. There has been long history of swarming within various military campaigns. However, swarming can be a highly impactful sales and marketing strategy to dominate markets.