Innovation Management ? 5 Ideas An Hour

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Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation whilst innovation can be defined as idea selection, development and commercialisation.

There are other useful definitions in this field, for example, creativity can be defined as consisting of a number of ideas, a number of diverse ideas and a number of novel ideas.

There are distinct processes that enhance problem identification and idea generation and, similarly, distinct processes that enhance idea selection, development and commercialisation. Whilst there is no sure fire route to commercial success, these processes improve the probability that good ideas will be generated and selected and that investment in developing and commercialising those ideas will not be wasted.

5 ideas an hour

The Economist (2003b) states that 3000 bright ideas are needed for 100 worthwhile projects, which in turn will be winnowed down to four development programmes for new products. And four such development programmes are the minimum needed to stand any chance of getting one winner.

From the above it is clear that a large number of good ideas are required before the innovation process can truly begin. Given that the bright ideas themselves would have been chosen from a larger pool of general ideas, the problem becomes one of maximising idea generation before idea selection begins.

One method of generating such a huge pool is to take advantage of some of the well known idea generating methods and principles, including:

a) The sum of ideas produced by individuals working alone is greater than the number of ideas produced by a group consisting of those individuals.

b) Incremental productivity produces more output than a "do your best" approach. By tasking individuals to generate five ideas an hour, they will produce forty in an average working day. Multiply that by "n" number of individuals in the firm and you have n X 40 ideas per day. A hundred individuals are able to produce 4000 ideas a day.

c) As stated above, creativity is problem identification and idea generation. Idea generation without problem identification reduces total output, as individuals have only a vague notion of what problem they are attempting to solve. Focus as much on problem identification as idea generation.

d) The production of such vast numbers of ideas requires the need for idea management. Knowledge Managers will be required. Ideas are valueless unless they are successfully implemented and that will not happen unless an Idea Manager takes control.

These and other topics are covered in depth in the MBA dissertation on Managing Creativity & Innovation, which can be purchased (along with a Creativity and Innovation DIY Audit, Good Idea Generator Software and Power Point Presentation) from

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Kal Bishop, MBA


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Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached on

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