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Brandwave-logo-6.png |Innovative Thinking | january '14
When innovators talk about thinking outside the box, they mean coming up with creative ways to solve problems - new ways to look at things. How do they do it? How can you do it too? We first have to ask what the "box" is. Then we can look at how to get outside of it.
The "box" is the   normal way of doing things and looking at things. It is the assumptions   that almost everyone involved is making. The best way to start thinking   out of the box then, is to identify and challenge all the assumptions   that make up the box.

As an Example, one   of the major liquor brands was faltering years ago, and they just   couldn't boost sales. Promotions, lowering the price, getting better   shelf placement - among other "in the box" solutions - simply didn't   work. Then someone challenged the prevailing assumptions, by asking,   "What if we stopped promotions and just raised the price?"The price was  raised as an experiment, and sales soon doubled. As it turns out, some  types of liquor are bought quite often as gifts. Buyers don't want to   purchase the most expensive item, but they also don't want to your profit margins when you raise the price and double the sales. That's the power of thinking outside of the box.

Ways To Get Outside The Box

Challenging assumptions is a powerful creative problem solving technique. The difficult part is to identify the assumptions. If you are designing a new motorcycle, write down assumptions like "speed matters," "it has to run on gas" and "it needs two wheels," not because you expect to prove these wrong, but because challenging these can lead to creative possibilities. Maybe the time has come for an electric three-wheeled motorcycle.

Another way to get to creative solutions is to "assume the absurd." This is either fun or annoying, depending on how open-minded you can be. All you do is start making absurd assumptions, then finding ways to make sense of them. The easiest way to do it is by asking "what if."

What if a carpet cleaning business was better off with half as many customers? It seems absurd, but work with it. Hmm...less stressful, perhaps. More profitable if each customer was worth three times as much. Is that possible? Commercial jobs that involve large easy-to-clean spaces (theaters, offices, convention halls) make more money in a day than houses, with fewer headaches. Focusing on getting those accounts could be the most profitable way to go - not so absurd.

Another way to more innovative ideas is to literally do your thinking out of the box. Get out of the house or the office. Look around at how others are doing things. On busses in Ecuador, salesmen put a product into everyones hands and let them hold it while they do a sales pitch. Then you have to give back "your" product or pay for it. It is very effective. How could you use the principle in your business?

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By Joe Ayoub
There was a time when the bigger and more established a company was, the more assured it felt in terms of staying power in the market. But those days are long gone, and today it's how much innovation a company embraces that decides whether it stays relevant or perishes. What this means for businesses is that no matter how big they are, if they want to survive, they need to think like a start-up.
By Joe Ayoub

A start-up by nature is constantly on its toes, harboring a hunger to wake up each morning and perform better than the day before. There's a flexibility to their way of thinking which means every aspect of the organization's strategy is open to question and can be easily superseded if a better idea is brought to the table.

Established businesses may still ask themselves why they would need to change things, but the answer is very clear: today's business landscape is a far cry from that of fifty years ago. Back then the average age of a Fortune 500 company was somewhere around 75 years; today the lifespan is closer to a mere decade before a company goes out of business or gets bought out.

What's changed is the pace of consumerism: we're living in an age where consumers are always hungry for more – everything from content to apps to games – and are looking to consume them simultaneously. Technology, the driver of this rampant consumerism, has also brought with it the ability for any innovation, whether patented or not, to be replicated within a short space of time, even months. Ultimately this is what is pushing companies to be innovators – they cannot stop in world that does not stand still.

But there's an additional impetus that businesses should be feeling in this call to think like a start-up. In the wake of the financial crisis, the world entered an era of zero growth. Companies have to face the reality of this era, of pressures on margins, and of pressure from consumers demanding constant new ideas in the market. Their only way to survive is to stay relevant, and innovation is the engine that will not only do that but keep them ahead of the curve and in front of their competition.

Once the need to think like a start-up has been acknowledged, a business also needs to know how to implement it. This is not about appointing one person in charge of innovation, but rather instilling a holistic culture throughout the organization. This requires commitment from top management who should be heavily engaged and act to unite all employees in this push for creativity. To get there, businesses need to take a comprehensive look at the business, the brand value proposition and the employees – and formulate a clear vision and central strategy. Questions that need to be answered include which products/services to retain and which to divest, and which processes need to be reviewed to meet objectives fast.

Bringing the focus back to Lebanon, we are all aware that the country is going through yet another crisis period. But at times like this the situation can be viewed as a problem or an opportunity. From Brandcell's standpoint we are advising our clients to look at it as an opportunity to take a small step back and redefine their business for growth. It's not enough to think sales are down and to try to resolve this with promotions and discounts that will only send one signal to consumers: that you are in panic mode. Instead, now is the time to benefit from the lull to rethink every element of your business proposition and to discover how many new ideas you can create, and how many new resources you can make available to jumpstart your business when this crisis is over. Therefore having the ability to continuously unlearn and learn again is the trademark of successful companies.

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DMI business design seminar
The Brandcell team attended the DMI Business Design Seminar in London in October 2013.
Business Design thinking is a methodology for creative resolutions of business issues that looks for an improved result using divergent and convergent thinking approaches.
Annual guide to the state of innovation in our economy, featuring the businesses whose innovations are having the greatest impacts across their industries and our culture as a whole.
1- NIKE:
For a pair of revolutionary new products and a culture of true believers.

For speeding up the delivery of change.

For spreading the mobile payments revolution.

For bringing big data to the masses

5- FAB:
For evolving into the destination for design wares
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Citi-Furniture has always been innovating in the furniture category in Lebanon, being the first to open a Furniture Mall store 30 years ago.
Following the retail worldwide trend of creating engaging customer experiences, Citi-Furniture embarked on an innovative journey from customer surveys that uncovered deep insights, to repositiong workshops, pretesting of new concepts, and development of winning ideas to create a fresh, innovative instore experience across all touch points.
The Art of Innovation
by Tom Kelley
IDEO, the widely admired, award-winning design and development firm that brought the world the Apple mouse, Polaroid's I-Zone instant camera, the Palm V, and hundreds of other cutting-edge products and services, reveals its secrets for fostering a culture and process of continuous innovation.

1. Swim upstream. 
Is everyone in your industry doing things the same way?
Maybe there's an untapped need others are missing.

2. Face your fear of change. 
We crave exciting new things as consumers,
but as business owners we often fear having to implement new ideas. 

3. Listen to customers. 
If you feel short of creative energy,
do a focus group or take an online poll.
4. Add unusual services. 
You don't have to be an inventor to be innovative.
Just add a service that isn't traditionally offered in your industry. 
5. Get behind your idea.
Don't be like Kodak,
sitting on your digital camera invention until competitors eat your lunch.  

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We're always on the lookout for businesses and professionals who are passionate about what they do. If you'd like to work with us on developing an idea or a project,
please get in touch.

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