I attended the KC Small Business "Think Bigger" luncheon recently when guest speaker David Kord Murray discussed his new book, "Borrowing Brilliance." The tome covers 6 steps (defining, borrowing, combining, incubating, judging, and enhancing) to build from others' ideas.

While several people afterward expressed frustration with Murray's presentation and demeanor (some of the frustrations were very justified), he shared a number of valuable points. Here's my take on the highlights he covered (thus the designation of this piece as a guest post of sorts):

  • To get to a core issue, Murray suggests asking, "What's the problem above the problem we're considering?" This is a different and helpful way of expressing the question, "What are we trying to achieve?" He cited an old, but relevant, example. In the 1920's, Ford defined the issue as building the cheapest car. GM identified a more fundamental issue: making cars affordable. Its problem definition led to auto financing's introduction.
  • Murray expressed a clear disdain for unfettered brainstorming, claiming stronger ideas emerge when more judging is involved. He has a point, in that once you've moved from divergent to convergent thinking steps, solid evaluation approaches do push you closer to more readily implementable ideas.
  • In using different perspectives to look for analogous ideas, Murray shared a borrowing continuum to look for ideas in Same, Similar, and then Distant domains (i.e., your industry, a related industry, a radically different industry). This concept has been discussed frequently in Brainzooming (and the "Taking the NO Out of InNOvation" ebook is structured similarly), yet this was a new, actionable way of expressing the approach.
  • He talked about "aha moments" occurring in the shower so frequently because we've typically minimized conscious thought, allowing the sub-conscious to sift through raw materials it's been fed. I haven't tried scheduling a group creative team meeting in the shower yet, but it again emphasizes the value of changes of scenery and activity in ideation.
  • Murray passed along an interesting factoid: Walt Disney conceived Disneyland not as an amusement park, but as a movie starring the park's guests. Instead of "rides," mini-movies were then developed in which guests star for a few minutes. I'd never really thought about it, but it makes perfect sense. It's also a great example of selecting a rich core concept and using it throughout the innovation process to create strategically consistent implementation.

All these are helpful insights. Now here's one for new authors (i.e., David Kord Murray): when a well-known local bookstore (i.e., Rainy Day Books) helps co-sponsor your appearance, maybe your closing book slide should feature its logo along with (or even instead of) the major online bookseller brands you chose to feature. Just saying. - Mike Brown

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