Borrowing an idea from from another field is not enough. To develop an innovation you need to deliberately connect your problem with the borrowed idea.
I rewrote this post at least three times because it seemed such an obvious next step that I couldn’t believe it was all this section was about. Yet sometimes we miss the obvious when we’re faced with an actual situation instead of a theoretical one.
This is also going to be the least time-consuming step of David Murray’s six steps towards business innovation, although he spends about the same number of pages telling you stories so you’ll really get the feel for how he means it.
The Power of Metaphor
A rose is like a kiss. A heart is like an engine. A company, or some of them anyway, is like a family. All of these are simple and familiar metaphors.
In this step towards innovation you say my problem is similar to this idea I borrowed and its solution. You connect the two.
Then you stretch the metaphor by examining each part of the connection. Essentially you are applying the borrowed idea to your problem as far as it will go.
And then you stop. Once the connections stop making sense, you stop making them and accept the structure you have built is done for now.
This might come naturally, as our brains tend to think metaphorically in the first place. We tend to describe the unfamiliar in terms of the familiar. But when you have a larger issue in mind it may be worth your time to slow down for a moment and make sure you’re getting the best results from the process.
More on Borrowing Brilliance
This is the third of a series of posts interpreting and summarizing the book Borrowing Brilliance by David Kord Murray. Read the rest: