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Is creativity is something that can be taught? The short answer is YES. The long answer is that there is no long answer. Anyone can follow few simple steps and come up with creative ideas. Allow me to guide you thru some of these steps and show you how you can come up with the next big idea.

Are you willing to participate in this experiment? Let see if we can leverage this platform to practice some innovative thinking tools.

I could use this post to describe to you some of the thinking tools that we regularly use to come up with new solutions. Instead, I would like to see if we can actually make use of one of these tools together.

In a typical scenario we are asked to identify new solutions to existing problems. For example: How might we reduce release cycles and deliver our innovations faster to our customers? This is a true challenge that we continue to explore all the time at SAP.

A different type might be to identify new use case to existing capabilities. For example: Amazon looked for new ways to surface value from their huge computing capabilities and came up with the cloud concept.In this experiment we will focus on the later type.

Let us begin with the experiment:

The selected challenge:  Can we identify new, valuable and interesting ways to use SCN blogging platform?

The Thinking tool to help us come with creative ideas for this challenge is called Task Unification: Assigning new function to an existing feature. In other words, we would like to leverage an existing feature that serves a specific function and use it for additional function. For example, in many cars, the rear window defroster is also used as an antenna for the Radio. One feature (metal grid across the rear window) serves two distinct functions (defrost, radio antenna)

The steps to apply this thinking tool:

  1. List all major features
  2. Select one feature and add additional function to it.
  3. Describe the outcome “product”
  4. Evaluate the viability, desirability and feasibility of the new product.
  5. Repeat the steps to create additional “products” till you come up with a winning idea.

In this post I will get you started with an initial idea and would like you to use the comments section below to continue and create even better ideas.

List of Features:

2 main roles: blogger, reader

Blogger features: write HTML content, edit HTML content, Attach files, add tags, publish, etc.

Reader features: Read, Rate, comment, share, follow, bookmark, etc.

And multiple additional features that you can add to the list.

My Selected Feature: Comments

My Product: Add new function to the comments for the usage of the blogger. Rather than having the blogger post his blog in the body of the blog and having the readers to write their comments at the bottom. In my product the blogger will write his post in the comments section as a list of comments.

My Product Evaluation: What is the value of posting in the comments area? Does it serve any reader needs?

Writing the post in the comments section, add much flexibility to the blogger and to the reader. It certainly does not fit all posting. But, if for example the blogger post can be divided to multiple autonomous paragraphs, posting each as a separate comment will make it easier for the reader to review and comment on the specific paragraph rather than commenting on the whole post. Another example might be to use it as a new kind of online survey were the author present the general topic in the blog body and publish list of questions in the comments area. Each reader can reply to each comment and provide answers to the author questions.

Viability: There are multiple usecases were this feature can become handy to both bloggers and readers.

Desirability: With the current UI of SCN it will look a bit weird and not as user friendly as it could be.

Feasibility: Yes. It actually doesn’t require any product development. It is merely a new way to use the existing product.

Verdict: Nice, but I should probably look for better ideas…

I decided to give this idea a try and posted a blog that leverage the comments space as well as the body space of the blog. Read it and let me know if it is helpful or not: What's next for cloud computing?

Now it is your part.

Can you think of additional features and add them to the list? I will dedicate the first comment to the feature list. Reply to it with relevant features that you identified and I didn’t include.

Can you come up with new “product” ideas? Post your ideas in the comments. I promise to follow and evaluate them.

Let me know if you like this thinking tools. If you are interested I can share more info on this thinking tool as well as on other powerful thinking tools that makes it easier to be creative and come up with product ideas.A