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Ask these to be more innovative today

be more innovative today

Have you ever wondered how some people can come up with the greatest ideas for innovation and we're still stuck with figuring out how to make mobile technology work for us? Aren't you astonished that some companies can come up with the wildest ideas that even make a brand new market, when we are still eating the scraps off ours? For example, Motorola engineers thought to unplug the telephone from the wall and made it mobile at a time when no one could even contemplate what a mobile phone was about! Many people ridiculed them, but they stuck to their guns and revolutionised the industry, creating what is one of the most ubiquitous apparatus today. In fact, in some African countries, mobile phone credits are used as modes of payment. (Read the Economist article: Airtime is money) (It is a wonder that Motorola is not sitting atop the industry they created, but that is the subject of another discussion!)

What makes the likes of these people different from us? How can they achieve so many big things when we are still struggling with the small? Well, the good news is, we can all come up with the big things, and the better news is, it is not difficult. Here are 6 questions, as compiled by Guy Kawasaki in his book, The Art of the Start 2.0, which I have found to be excellent in shifting our focus away from the small stuff onto the bigger ones, and to be more innovative TODAY:

1. Therefore, what?

2. Wouldn't it be interesting?

3. Isn't there a better way?

4. Why is our company not doing this?

5. It's possible, so why don't we do it?

6. Where is the market leader weak?

Read on as we uncover each of these questions, and I will leave you with a real humdinger of a question at the end of this article...

1. Therefore, what?

This is a very simple yet profound, question that leaves short-term thinking people stumped. "Therefore, what...?" forces us to think beyond the current trends and find solutions for the future. Remember, innovation needs to be future-focused. Spot a trend and ask "Therefore, what...?" will open up whole new possibilities for us. For example, it is not surprising that Singapore is going to open its immigration gates in the next couple of years. 6.9M is a given, ladies and gentlemen. People are bandying the 10M number already. So, there will be more people in Singapore. Therefore, what? There might be a feeling of claustrophobia, as we already see in the trains and buses. There is also a prevalence of smaller family sizes, and a growing movement for tiny houses in the US. This will probably come to Singapore in the next 8 to 10 years. Therefore, what? Well, we can start building shoebox units once again, but

shoebox apartment; photo credit:

making the surrounding space bigger. This will not give the feeling of claustrophobia that is often associated with such housing projects. This turns our design thinking on its head - from building large units tightly squeezed together, to building small units, nicely spaced apart. Something to think about, perhaps? Therefore, what...?

2. Wouldn't it be interesting?

In 1990, Jay Sorensen was a down-and-out real estate salesman. He made a total of one sale for the year and was living on the edge of his means. He had to come up with something to bring home the bacon. Back then, Starbucks had just opened a coffee joint in his hometown, and he noticed that the people who were buying it to go had to hold onto the cup by gingerly gripping the lip and the base. And the coffee joint across the road from Starbucks was handing out their coffee takeaways wrapped with some paper towel (you remember that, don't you?) A personal coffee accident, where the coffee slipped from the paper towel, and spilled hot coffee on his lap while driving (that's why you should never drink and drive!!), caused Sorensen to ask if there was another way of holding onto coffee (see #3). As it turned out, he returned to the paper towel solution and asked, "Wouldn't it be interesting if the paper towel stuck to the cup?" And this was born the Java Jacket, the corrugated cardboard

Photo credit: By Nirzar - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,