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Bill Fischer,Andy Boynton

The Idea Hunter

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These people are expected (and trained) to look for fresh ideas about how to cater to each guest as an individual customer. They do so, first of all, by noticing things; the word “idea,” in fact, is culled from the Greek idein, “to see
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In addition to paying attention to the world around them, all Idea Hunters need to observe themselves. Personal experiences—likes and dislikes, to start with—are a potential source of professional ideas
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Pixar, physical space is only part of what puts people in the stream of ideas
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What have you observed about how others manage their idea sources
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What critical sources are absent or underrepresented
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Another possibility is that you’re not involved in enough interpersonal conversations, whether face to face or through all the other means (phone, e-mail, GoogleTalk, and so on). As we’ll see further in Chapter Six, conversations play a critical role in generating the insights and experiences that bring about real innovations
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The assessment includes asking yourself questions such as these:
• Where and how am I getting ideas?
• What magazines, journals, and papers do I use regularly?
• What useful books have I read recently?
• What web sites do I visit on a regular basis?
• With whom do I converse in order to find ideas?
• Who challenges my ideas and, by doing so, makes me think more effectively?
• Am I interacting with the same people day after day, or am I making new contacts, finding people outside my usual circle and field of expertise?
• Where, if at all, have I missed opportunities for idea exchanges
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Start by taking stock of your current sources
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Assembling an Idea Portfolio
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. For now, it’s worthwhile to take a clear-eyed look at these factors:
1. Your level of curiosity—whether you’re interested in both the substance of your work and other people’s work.
2. Your breadth—whether you’re consulting a wide diversity of sources.
3. Your habits—whether your idea search is steady rather than sporadic.
4. Your positioning—whether you’re putting yourself in the line of fire of great ideas and building these ideas as you go along. (Such agility will be the focus of the next chapter
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Being sensitive to your own experiences, alert to your desires and frustrations, is a well-established path to innovation
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Timing is important. It’s best to make a note when the observations are fresh—preferably in real time. Otherwise they may fade or evaporate altogether.
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What do customers care about? What are their frustrations? What can we learn by talking to them, by paying attention to their body language? T
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“You can’t assume you know what a customer wants until you watch and ask
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the best advice is to be a more deliberate observer, wherever you find yourself. Paying attention to your own experiences as a customer or client is a good place to start. When you walk into a coffee shop, do the baristas look happy or harried
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or example, in meetings or even in informal conversations, do you ask questions with the intent of finding new ideas? This does not add to your work time—you’re already in the meeting
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Training yourself to notice things is another part of the observational platform.
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less than a culture of observation, has codified that principl
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Exercise brings opportunity. The habits of the Hunt lead to innovations, big and small
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e, though there came a time when the blue spiral notebook was supplanted by a tape recorder. Walton had the right attitude as an Idea Hunter. “You can learn from everybody,” he taught. “I probably learned the most by studying what my competitor was doing across the street
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