Running innovation projects is hard. By definition you’re doing new things so you can’t rely on old habits and routines. If you and your innovation team don’t feel uncomfortable, you’re simply not innovating. That doesn’t mean you’ll need to fly blind. At every moment in your innovation process you can use tools, references, checklists and other innovation methods. We do the same in our innovation projects. Let me give you some insights in our innovation toolkit. Let me present my weapons of choice at every stage within an innovation process!
[toc]Navigate this article:
I. Best inspiration sources to find new ideas
II. Free trend reports and inspiration documents
IV. Books on innovation frameworks, models & tools
V. Software tools/online services/apps
VI. Non-digital tools (you know, atoms and stuff)
VII. Presenting your idea – create an awesome pitch[/toc]
I.a Subscribe to innovation blogs
Everyday you and your innovation team should be fueled with fresh ideas. Strong innovators have a huge backpack loaded with inspiring cases. RSS feeds are still my number one resource to get my personal daily shot of inspiration.
Our favorite websites to steal ideas:
Where do you find new business ideas? How to keep track of emerging trends? The following sites have an excellent RSS-feed to connect to your own news reader.
Non-English innovation & inspiration feeds:
Flanders DC blog
I manage and read my +500 feeds via Feedly (also available on iPad/mobile).
Pro tip Many of the above blogs and websites have some awesome daily/weekly newsletters. However, you are probably already struggling to reach inbox-zero and might be hesitant to sign up for more newsletters… in that case, check out unroll.me!
Pro tip XL Pocket is a great tool for keeping a track of what you have already read & plan to read! Not only does it provide you with a searchable database of everything your read, it also runs on multiple platforms.
I.b Use social media as innovation news filters
Use Flipboard (iPad) and Zite (iPad) to create news channels on specific topics. With these apps I’ve made channels for “innovation”, “entrepreneurship”, “creativity” and so on. Every day I get the most popular articles related to these subjects.
Pro tip By using services as Wefollow or Klout you can find Twitter users that can be considered experts in a specific field. (e.g. business innovation, technology trends,…). Just create a Twitter list with these people and add this list to Flipboard. By doing so you can keep track of all the articles and links that these “influencers” share. Very useful!
Inspiring Twitter accounts to follow:
|@JoelGascoigne – Joel Cascoigne
@PeterVan – Peter Vander Auwera
@thulme – Tom Hulme
@polledemaagt – Polle de Maagt
@rags – Rags Srinivasan
@GreenbizStartup – Simone Veldema
@innovate – Braden Kelly
@Helenwalters – Helen Walters
@Baekdal – Thomas Baekdal
@Markevans – Mark Evans
@rrhoover -Ryan Hoover
|@tijs – Tijs Vrolix
@jkloren – Julian Keith Loren
@Alexosterwalder – Alex Osterwalder
@chr1sa – Chris Anderson
@ericries – Eric Ries
@designthinkers – Arne Van Oosterom
@mtrends – Rudy De Waele
@paulsloane – Paul Sloane
@bhc3 – Hutch Carpenter
@Garyphayes – Gary Hayes
@EdwinRes – Edwin Res
People from our own team to follow:
Pro tip Don’t forget to make a search column with the twitter @usernames of your most important clients, partners or your competitors. example query to see who’s talking to us: “@nickdemey” OR “@philderidder”
Stay updated through #Hashtags:
Use a dedicated twitter client (e.g. Tweetdeck, Hootsuite) to create columns on specific topic clusters. To get you started you could track specific hashtags: #bmgen, #innochat or #creativity. Keeping track of hashtags of specific innovation, marketing or trend conferences will give you good suggestions on who to follow in the innovation field. Examples: #lift14, #Picnic14,… Here is good overview of the most important tech events in Europe by Mike Butcher. Another great tip is to follow specific region hashtags. Today quite a few regions have their own hashtag to share information about technology and startups. Besides getting news on events, startups etc., these hashtags are very useful when planning an inspiration trip or reaching out to specific communities.
|#sthlmtech – Stockholm||#Tech_NO – Norway|
|#Siliconbeach – Los Angeles||#EstonianMafia – Estonia|
|#CPHFTW – Copenhagen||#BeTech - Belgium|
|#NordicTech - Nordics||#startupdk – Denmark|
|#FinlandTech – Finland||#helyes – Helsinki|
|#StartupIceland – Iceland||#TechOslo – Oslo|
|#SwedenTech – Sweden||#Malmostartups – Malmö|
|#GbgTech – Göteborg||#UppsalaTech – Uppsala|
|What #Hashtags are we missing?|
Pro tip When reading on Twitter you can star interesting tweets. Use a service like IFTTT.com to push the links in these tweets to your Pocket reader, so you can read them when you have time on your iPad. Again, by using Tweetdeck. You could create very specific search queries by combining search terms. Example of a query for one Tweetdeck column: “business innovation” OR “new business model” OR “new revenue model”. Of course you can use the good old Google Alerts service to get similar kind of notifications on new articles, directly in your mailbox. If you want a more advanced solution, give Mention.Com a try.
Many agencies and organizations share amazing PDF’s and research papers packed with tons of inspiration. Explore & enjoy!
II.a To print: Trend maps & info graphics
We love to spam our walls with trend maps. These are some of our favorites:
Pro tip Don’t forget to spice up your office with some of our free (!) innovation posters!
II.b To read: Trend reports & websites
Evolve or dissolve! These reports will give you a better idea of where we are heading. Make a coffee and read them.
Videos are awesome & luckily the internet will provide you with endless of hours of video watching! To discover great video content you could go to Khanacademy, Youtube or other video sites likes Vimeo. You could search for “Documentaries”(Example: Everything is a Remix ), Concept videos (Example: MAG+ ), and so on. If you want to find very remarkable and inspiring videos on the future of technology you can start your search by looking for specific technology conferences or research labs: examples: “Siggraph”, “MIT”,… (PatchMatch: Structural Image Editing , SIGGRAPH 2010: Squidsoup’s Glowing Pathfinder Bugs,…). … or you could take a look at our links below ;-)
Pro tip Check out these awesome YouTube channels curated by us ;-)
III.a Our top TED picks:
Nobody can beat the inspirational power of 1000+ talks in the TED talk archive. Just check how Johanna Blakley is spreading her wisdom on fashion’s free culture.
Some other Board of Innovation favorites:
III.b Cool concept videos:
Concept videos are great sources for inspiration. We hand picked 10 concept videos just to get you started:
III.c Documentaries to keep you alive:
Fiction rocks!! Just take a look at the programs from major (documentary) film festivals around the world and you will surely find the first handful of documentaries you don’t want to miss. We regularly check-up on the programmes from Sundance, SXSW, CPH:DOX… If it is too much of a hassle to skim the often packed programs, you can opt for these 11 documentaries that will make you a smarter marketer, or jump straight to this Wikipedia list of Oscar nominated documentaries. If Innovation is all you care about, then ask Quora what are some of the best documentaries about innovation!
Make sure to catch:
IV.a The Innovative Mindset
These books will help you train and maintain the innovation mindset necessary to succeed!
IV.b Books on Innovation Tools
Here are some awesome inspirational books offering concrete tools for your innovation projects.
If you are looking for something shorter than a book, we recommend you to check out some of these sources:
IV.c Innovation Challengers
Any Innovation professional should challenge status quo. Below are some books raising important questions.
Pro tip If you want more challengers, we recommend this awesome list of 30 What If Questions… made by us ;-)
IV.d Innovation Cases: Best practices & huge failures!
Learn from the best cases – and the absolutely huge failures!
Pro tip Don’t have time to sit and read a whole book? Why don’t you download some audiobooks and listen on the go? You can for example use Audible.com or search iTunes store for audiobooks – some are even free, like Chris Anderson’s Free – the future of a radical price.
While many swear by Evernote (capturing notes) and Basecamp (project management) I must admit that I hate these tools. Every once in while somebody convinces me that I really should try both tools. Several days later I already forget that I had these in place. I can’t commit myself to explore their full potential I guess. Both tools give you a false sense of control. Getting info in these tools is easy, getting anything relevant or useful out again is another story.
V.a Always get feedback from your users:
We are strong supporters of getting user feedback to validate your projects. So go and test with these great tools in your Innovation backpack!
V.b Make it stick with visualisations:
Visualisations increase the likelihood that things will be remembered, by a lot! So always always make sure to make your innovation project visual! Below are some terrific tools that we use daily:
V.c Sharing is caring:
Remember to share knowledge, both internally and externally! Below are some great tools for sharing innovation knowledge and to collaborate on projects!
V.d Productivity is (one) key to success
“Work smarter”. You have heard it before, probably one too many times. However, there are tons of amazing services making your innovation life easier. Below we have collected our top productivity tips for an innovation professional!
- Not satisfied? Check out The 101 Most Useful Websites: A great list of productivity tools!
Excel is not the most engaging innovation tool, is it? During our workshops and innovation projects we use several tools & templates which help our clients to innovate faster.
VI.a General tips
Some general tips for innovating with non-digital tools:
Pro tip When using post-its remember to use bold-pens so people can read them from far away. Also try to only write one thing per post it, in this way it is easier to move them around, and don’t forget to utilize the different colours for categories etc.
VI.b Specific tools for workshops
Innovation workshops should be interactive! These tools let all the participants… well… participate!
VI.c Tools for DIY
Never stop making! This also applies to creating tools. Below are some links that can help you to create your own non-digital tools for your innovative-life!
Every innovation professional will occasionally need to present their project – whether it is to a sponsor (e.g. senior management), customer, media or the family. Unfortunately, we see far too many crappy presentations. Luckily, the solution is right here in front you you, because the internet is full of ways to become a presentation ninja. Remember: Don’t blame your tools for creating a mediocre presentation. Just Learn from the masters and level up!
VII.a Tools for making & sharing awesome slides
To create rocking slide decks: Keep it short and simple, try to amaze your audience but please stop talking about ‘elevator pitches’. Oh, and stop using Prezi.com, really… -thanks
Tips & tricks for awesome slides:
Keynote on Mac still rocks but even when you’re limited to Powerpoint you can create rocking slides. Don’t forget to check how to seamless transition from Keynote to a Browser. You don’t have Keynote nor Powerpoint? No problem, Canva is here to help (even with a super easy & cool get-started tool!).
We follow 1 rule: 1 slide = 1 idea = 1 image.
Other great tips on how to create awesome slides can be found from these links:
Pro tip Check this awesome presentation!
Share your presentations online:
Once you have created a rocking slidedeck, don’t waste the opportunity to share it with the world. Slideshare: Slideshare.net is more or less the Youtube of presentation sites but that doesn’t mean that this is the only option to showcase your presentations. Other start-ups are working hard to offer competitive alternatives. Keep an eye on Speakerdeck.com and Projeqt.com, 2 projects that might disrupt this field anytime soon. Even Scribd might be a good solution for you. Just go out and play!
VII.b Find eye-catching images & company logos
Let us just repeat the golden rule: 1 slide = 1 idea = 1 image! Right!? So the obvious question is, where do you find stunning images for your presentation? We have collected our go-to sources here.
Creative Commons License ftw:
Flickr.com has a huge selection of high res images that are available under Creative Commons license.
Pro tip Personally I’ve created a short code in my browser (Chrome) to do a direct search for CC images. Just add Flickr to your Quick Searches (manage search engines under preferences) and point your url to: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=%s&l=cc&s=int As a short code I chose “flcc”. Every time you need an image under Creative Commons license you can just type something like “flcc house” in your URL bar in Chrome. Bang – Beautiful images!
If the above trick doesn’t do the job, you can use one of these websites:
If you can’t find the images you’re looking for you will find (hopefully) exactly what you need on these stock photo sites. But please, don’t pick these cheesy overacted no-minority-has-been-left-out team photo’s. If you want to show people, just take pictures of your own real life brainstorms. It’s cheaper and more convincing!
Need a high quality company logo:
First stop, go to their official website and look for a button Brand identity. Many times there is a vector file (pdf, ai, eps,..) that you can download with some guidelines on how to use them properly.
Next stop: Go to brandsoftheworld.com where they have a huge collection of logos available for you to download.
Pro tip Search google for PDF files on the domain of the your company. (e.g. press releases). Most of the time you can open the PDF in a program like Adobe Illustrator. Just copy the logo and export to a format of your choice. Google example: “site:nike.com file:.pdf press” of try “file:.pdf press release”.
VII.c Awesome & horrible presentations
VII.d How to present your slides like a king
When meeting an investor or customer, the slides won’t present themselves, so you better learn how to communicate effectively! These great sources will help you along the way.
Great tips on how to build your story: Nancy Duarte uncovers common structure of greatest communicators
Or just contact us to tackle your innovation challenge!
Here are some teasers to get you started:
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