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Carla Johnson

10x Author, Marketing & Innovation Strategist

Global Keynote Speaker

Carla Johnson summarizes her 5-step plan for generating new ideas from her book “Re:Think Innovation”

My name is Carla Johnson, I'm from Denver,Colorado. I am a Marketing and Innovation Strategist, and I work with companie sand their teams to help them become better critical thinkers, better problem solvers and better idea generators. The inspiration that I had for the book,Rethink Innovation, came about five years ago when I wrote my seventh book called Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing, about how to create story-driven experiences. And one of the things that I found as I would do workshops and speak is that people consistently came up to me and they said, "I love the process. What I struggle with is I'm not a creative person, and I don't knowhow to come up with ideas." And so that sent me down a rabbit hole to really learn the process, I guess, to do the investigation to figure out,"Can anybody learn how to come up with a great idea?" So during my research, what I found was the world's most creative, innovative thinkers all follow the exact same process when they came up with a great idea, whether they realized it or not. And this is just how they thought and they would do this time after time after time. And it's really what made them very prolific, perpetual innovators.

 

Qualities and skills of a true innovator

I think in order to be innovative, one of the very first things that you have to have as a characteristic, is you have to be curious. Because I think it's that curiosity about the world all around us, like being curious here in Albuquerque today, during the Balloon Fiesta, it really heightens your sense of awareness and observation. And the most innovative people in the world are highly, highly observant and curious people.The perpetual innovation process is a five-step plan that starts out, be more observant of the world around you. And there's so much that we do, and we go through an auto-pilot every single day, especially with those things called the cell phone that we carry with us all the time. And it's taught us to really put blinders on how we go through life. But the more observant that we can be, the more we notice the little details of life. The second step is taking all of these things that we've observed and start to distill them into something that looks like a broader pattern, and then it's those patterns that lead us to the third step, relating it into the work that we do. Now, this step in particular is really important because it makes the difference between whether a great idea is something that's just copied and pasted from another situation and isn't truly innovative in our own work, or whether an idea is inspired at all.

 

Continuing to generate impactful ideas

So the relate step takes it from the theoretical world into our real world of work. Then the fourth step is generating the ideas. Now, what most people do is they start with that fourth step and they don't bring it back to anything that inspired them, and so most ideas aren't inspired, they are things that have already been done before, they're copycats of other things, or the ideas don't come at all. And then the fifth step is understanding how to pitch your idea, because bad pitches kill even the best of ideas. So if we think about even the Balloon Fiesta today, it's a perfect example of the perpetual innovation process. Our pilot, Gary, told us a little bit about the history of ballooning and it's the perpetual innovation process. It was two gentlemen who observe something as simple as paper floating when it starts on fire. They looked at the patterns of that, they related that into the work that they do and that's how they generated the idea of using heat and paper to come up with the balloon, they pitched the idea to the King of France, and here we are today, all these many years later, and that really is the simplest process that we can use consistently over time, and it's what the most creative and prolific innovators use and this is the process that anybody can learn how to do. Innovation truly is everybody's business.