Katie Konrath has the right idea when she tackles this question, “Can you make me be more creative?”

Yesterday, I was talking with a couple friends when one asked two of my favorite questions. “What happens when someone can’t think of any ideas? You can’t force them to be more creative, right?”  I rubbed my hands together, thrilled at the challenge that was coming. Actually, I can.

Her approach is to combine ideas and concepts that seem pretty silly at first, but then she mentally forces these constructs to have some sort of value or purpose.  This, in essence, is a systematic approach to innovating that can be trained and repeated.

The key to becoming extremely effective at innovation is to learn all the tools and templates that help create an initial, undefined construct, or what innovation researchers call “the pre-inventive form.”  This ability to apply a template, then find a useful purpose for the for what comes out of that template is what allows one to innovate on demand.  Templates “make” people innovate.

Katie’s also recognizes the value of involving many people in the use of innovation templates.  Innovation is a team sport.  Diverse, cross-functional teams using a facilitated process can overcome the inherent challenges people face when when innovating.