Ignite ideas using a Trigger Library

When you’re stuck in a rut with your ideas, look at stuff outside your paradigm to pull you out of that rut. By “outside your paradigm,” I mean outside your industry, your product/service, your customer demographic and/or your primary market, etc. For example, if you have a new mutual fund to sell to baby boomers in Canada, you might look at how other organizations use novel ideas to…

  • sell other products to baby boomers (adapt the insights to mutual funds?)
  • sell investment products in other countries (adapt the insights for market segments in Canada with similar profiles?)
  • sell investment products to twenty-somethings (take their assumptions and reverse them?)
  • sell any kind of product related to “security” (for example, draw inspiration from the selling proposition for home security systems)

I said “organizations” vs. “companies” to remind you to look beyond for-profit to charities, hospitals, schools, branches of government, etc.

Don’t worry about adapting the ideas you discover in a literal way; simply allow them to ignite new thinking. To find a technique to help you apply triggers to the challenge you’re working on now, go to Find inspiration in “star” ideas.

Trigger Libraries require advance set up. Start building yours now – some common options are:

  • Random online sources: use a site such as stumbleupon to randomly surf the web,. When you set up your account, indicate what topics interest you. Pinterest.com is a giant virtual bulletin board of good ideas (in picture form). It’s very easy to browse.
  • Bookmarked online sources: start a folder called “Trigger Library” and file interesting sites. Go through them when you’re stuck.
  • Visuals: browse interesting photos, illustrations and logos, and look beyond the image itself. A visual might express an attitude, a style, a story or a strategy that, in turn, inspires a new or improved product, service or process. A site with a huge variety of compelling images is behance. net.
  • “Best of” sources: Look at video, e.g.  “25 best commercials ever” and “best commercials of 2010“, as well as websites that catalogue “best ever” movies, music, books, inventions, etc.
  • Paper File: Collect stand-out articles, reports, ads, direct mail, etc., in a folder called “Trigger Library”. Include any notes you’ve written to yourself about cool stuff.
  • Actual books/magazines: try a more tactile experience than the web! For example, if it was my job to market mutual funds, I’d keep copies of Zoomer Magazine – it’s a rich source of ads/articles catering to the baby boomer demographic. Note: books are easier to use in a brainstorming session; if you allow people to go online, you may lose them.
  • Catalogues: find great triggers in products from Sharper Image, Ikea, Canadian Tire, Toys R Us, etc. Go beyond product features and allow your vision of how the customer interacts with the product to trigger ideas.
  • Whimsy: off set the serious stuff with Dr. Suess, comics, jokes, trivia, etc.

In my post, Find inspiration in “star” ideas, I refer to online sources that reference new and interesting innovations. They are certainly a good place to start, especially if you’re pressed for time. Here they are again:

  • Springwise.com is literally a library of cool inventions. It sorts them by industry in their data base, and gives you the most recent ideas in a newsletter. See back issues of the newsletter for even more stuff.
  • Trendwatching.com gives you a different angle: trends that reveal insights about the evolution of human behaviours and new ideas that ride these trends. Start at the previous briefing page: it acts like an index of most recent trends.
  • Stumbleupon.com will take you to random sites based on a topic of your choice. If not a member, try out the link and simple press the “stumble” button at the extreme top left to go to another page. Connect whatever you see to your challenge in order to trigger new ideas.

When using a Trigger Library, give yourself a time limit. Otherwise, you’ll get lost in it. There are endless distractions and it takes discipline to stick to the task at hand.



2 Responsesto “Ignite ideas using a Trigger Library”

  1. Marilla says:

    Hey Inge – some great ideas here – I used to make scrapbooks of stuff to inspire me. Haven’t done it for years – must do it again!

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