February 28, 2014

Innovation and Driving Successful Brainstorms, with Keith Harmeyer

SmartStorming Book CoverBig or small, the need to generate new ideas is stronger than it has ever been for modern businesses. Gone are the days where innovation was the domain of just the Xerox PARCs or Skunk Works of the world. All innovation starts with an idea, which is why we focus on idea generation on the 4th installment of “The Innovation Engine” podcast.

Keith Harmeyer, co-author of the book SmartStorming: The Game-Changing Process for Generating Bigger, Better Ideas, joins us to discuss how to successfully generate big ideas through group brainstorming. Keith, along with his partner Mitchell Rigie, runs a consulting firm called SmartStorming that provides leadership and innovation training to clients like Google, UnderArmour, NBC Universal, Diageo, and MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Among the questions we cover: What are the different approaches to coming up with big ideas? How do you select the right ideas to act on? How can you “measure” the different ideas that are suggested?

Here are some of the key highlights from my podcast discussion with Keith Harmeyer:

  • Keith explains the rationale behind the title of Chapter 1 of the book he co-authored with Mitchell, “Innovation: The New Darwinism”
  • “Ideas are the seeds of the innovation.” Today, you need a lot of ideas to stay in the game. The constant pressure put on by consumers has increased the frequency of innovation and companies can no longer survive on one product or idea for many years or even generations
  • We talk about the different metrics that a company can look to measure or benchmark innovation, e.g. a services company might aim towards improving efficiencies and business wins. Evaluating consumer satisfaction is the best way to measure innovation, says Keith.
  • Keith talks about divergent thinking and convergent thinking, and how both are needed to successfully brainstorm big ideas.
  • Learn about “Brain Writing” and “Group Graffiti,” two highly successful techniques to get the best out of your brainstorming discussions
  • I also got to ask my favorite question of the podcast so far: ” At the risk of sounding like a jerk, what can you teach Google about innovation?” Keith handled the question with the kind of grace and aplomb you would expect from a former actor and advertising savant.

Without further ado, get your popcorn ready and tune in to episode 4 of “The Innovation Engine,” your one-stop destination for anything and everything innovation related.

About The Innovation Engine

Since 2014, 3Pillar has published The Innovation Engine, a podcast that sees a wide range of innovation experts come on to discuss topics that include technology, leadership, and company culture. You can download and subscribe to The Innovation Engine on Apple Podcasts. You can also tune in via the podcast’s home on Spotify to listen online, via Android or iOS, or on any device supporting a mobile browser.