June 18, 2008


As the story goes... in 1939, a Russian immigrant owned the rights to distribute vodka in the U.S. His efforts bombed. Americans weren't attracted to a colorless, odorless alcohol.

Depressed, he sold the rights to Heublein, an alcohol distribution company, who asked themselves: "What can we combine with Vodka to give it a distinctive color and a taste?" In time, they came up with tomato juice and, voila, the Bloody Mary was born, boosting sales through the roof.

What most of us think of as "innovation" is really just the elegant combination of two (or more) pre-existing elements resulting in the creation of a new, value-added product or service.

What is roller blading but the synthesis of ice skating and roller skating? What is MTV but the synthesis of music and television? When Johannes Gutenberg was asked how he arrived at the invention of the printing press, he confessed it was as simple as seeing a new connection between two existing products: the wine press and the coin punch.

If you are committed to coming up with a BREAKTHROUGH IDEA, start looking for new connections between the stuff that's all around you.

Click below for instructions on how to use this technique -- and where to find the online IDEA LOTTERY tool.

1. Create a 5x5 grid on a piece of paper.
2. In 15 of the squares, write down the key elements of your current challenge (i.e. a person, place, task, etc).
3. In the remaining 10 squares, write random nouns.
4. Combine words in two or more squares. Then see if the relationship between those words spark any new ideas.
5. Continue the process with other 2 or 3-word combinations.

Excerpted from Awake at the Wheel: Getting Your Great Ideas Rolling (in an uphill world).

If you want to play the virtual idea lottery, click here.

If you want to buy the Idea Lottery guidebook (hard copy or downloadable pdf version) click here.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at June 18, 2008 01:39 PM

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Idea Champions is a consulting and training company dedicated to awakening and nurturing the spirit of innovation. We help individuals, teams and entire organizations tap into their innate ability to create, develop and implement ideas that make a difference.

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