Group standing around table, brainstorming

CONCEPT GENERATION

Innovation is now recognized as the single most important ingredient in any modern economy.  
—The Economist

The devil’s advocate may be the biggest innovation killer….      
—Tom Kelley

Once an important clinical need is clearly identified, it’s time to have some fun.  It’s time to invent.  

Concept generation, getting the ideas, begins with ideation and brainstorming.  This approach originated half a century ago in Alex Osborn’s Applied Imagination, which launched the study of creativity in business development.  Its premise is clear.  There are three things to work with—facts, ideas, and solutions; each deserves quality time.  The natural tendency is to leap from facts to solutions, skipping over the play and exploration, which is at the heart of finding new ideas.  Most of us are experienced with fact finding, it’s a consequence of contemporary education’s preoccupation with facts.  We’re also familiar with solutions; most of us like to solve problems and move on.  Idea finding may seem childlike (and it should be) but at its heart is the exploration of possibilities, free from as many constraints as possible.

Brainstorming is not new-age nonsense, rather it is a studied process and practiced art for suspending judgment, encouraging wild ideas, and building upon those ideas to invent something that has value.  If nothing revolutionary, weird, or goofy surfaces, this stage has failed.  The vibe should be upbeat—a chance to try things out, to free associate, and to challenge the wisdom of the present.
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