Without Compulsory Means (Dr. Stephen Liddle)

Pursuing its mission to inspire the BYU community to life-long innovation, the Creativity, Innovation, and Design group selects and highlights compelling BYU speeches on creativity, innovation, design, invention, and entrepreneurship.

Enjoy Dr. Stephen Liddle’s speech “Without Compulsory Means” delivered on May 3, 2016.

Without Compulsory Means (Dr. Stephen Liddle)

13 Ideas to Increase Your Creativity & Innovation

Do you want to be more creative?  Do you want to see more of your innovative ideas take flight?  Do you see an opportunity to solve a significant problem or tackle an issue that has not been resolved satisfactorily?  Do you find your imagination sparked and you want that fanned into a lively flame?  Are you one who wants to solve pressing social problems, build something that matters to other people, accomplish a wildly audacious goal, inspire others, or make the world a better place?

What do innovation experts say?

According to Tina Seelig, Professor of Management Science & Engineering at Stanford University “The Invention Cycle” (as detailed in her book InsightOut) is composed of four elements that build upon each other in order:

  1. Imagination requires active engagement and the ability to envision alternatives.
  2. Creativity requires motivation and experimentation to address challenges.
  3. Innovation requires focusing and reframing to generate unique solutions.
  4. Entrepreneurship requires persistence and the ability to inspire others.

One must begin with imagination, with conceiving possibilities, then creatively experiment to discover potential solutions.  However, the first answer is not usually the right answer.  So in the innovation stage one seeks to reframe the problem in order to unlock new possible solutions.  Finally, when one has determined viable solutions, an entrepreneurial venture can launch the solution. 

Entrepreneurship is not simply about creating a money-making venture, but rather about using rigorous processes to scale up the delivery of a viable solution to a real need.  The process of entrepreneurship can be applied to non-profit, government, health-care, education, or any human endeavor that has the potential to be improved, such as family relationships and personal improvement.

Other innovation experts, Jeff Dyer (BYU Business Professor) and Nathan Furr (INSEAD Business Professor), suggest the following four steps to be more innovative.

  1. Step 1: Insight: Savor Surprises. Leverage questioning, observing, networking, and experimenting—to search broadly for insights about problems worth solving.”
  2. Step 2: Problem: Discover the Job to be Done. Rather than starting with solutions, start by deeply exploring the customers’ need or problem—the functional, social, and emotional job to be done—to be sure you’re going after a problem worth solving.”
  3. Step 3: Solution: Prototype the Minimum Awesome Product. Instead of developing full scale products, leverage multiple virtual prototypes to explore many solution dimensions, then iterate on each solution to develop a minimum viable prototype and eventually a minimum awesome product—one that truly delights on a particular dimension.”
  4. Step 4: Business Model: Validate the Go-to-Market Strategy. Once you’ve nailed the solution, you’re ready to validate the other components of the business model, including the pricing strategy, the customer acquisition strategy, and the cost structure strategy.”

(The quotes above are drawn from this Forbes article).

More insights can be found in Dyer’s and Furr’s book The Innovator’s Method, which builds on Dr. Dyer’s previous book, The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators (co-authored with Hal Gregerson and Clayton Christensen).  Through many interviews with CEOs of some of the most successfully innovative companies, the authors of The Innovator’s DNA discovered that innovators practice the following five skills:

  1. Questioning (asking questions that challenge common wisdom).
  2. Observing (scrutinizing behaviors to identify new ways of doing things).
  3. Networking (meeting people with different ideas, backgrounds, and perspectives).
  4. Experimenting (constructing interactive experiences that provoke unorthodox responses to see what insights emerge).
  5. Associating (connecting the unconnected across questions, problems, or ideas from unrelated fields).

The Innovator’s DNA is an excellent resource to guide the practice of generating innovative ideas.  However, The Innovator’s DNA does not explain the process of taking innovative ideas through the various stages of validation whereby a great idea is launched successfully into the marketplace through a sustainable business model.  Thus, Professors Furr and Dyer authored The Innovator’s Method to fill that gap. 

Happy innovating!

Taylor Halverson, Ph.D.

13 Ideas to Increase Your Creativity & Innovation

Structure: A Barrier to Creativity

By Ethan Parry

Structure can be either a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. Structure can provide individuals with a sense of order, or, can be seen as something that is restrictive. Karin Hibma, one of the co-founders of successful design firm CRONAN, believes that creativity can actually be created. In this article, Hibma talks about how important it is to get her clients out of their normal routine.

Hibma schedules meetings no earlier than 10 a.m., so that her clients have already checked their email and will put their phones away. After having a brief introductory meeting, they will have lunch and play a little game of croquet. As I was reading the article, I came to the realization that structure can be a huge barrier to creativity.

Every day I wake up, check my social media and email, get to school, check my email again, work, eat lunch, go home, do homework and repeat the process. I have my routine and I rarely deviate from it. At work, I always expect big ideas to come out of a large brainstorming session in a conference room. When no big ideas come out of the meeting, I get frustrated and start to wonder what went wrong. Like what Hibma does for her clients, I need to do for myself. I need to break free from all the “structure” in my life and think outside of the box.

In order to motivate myself to break down all the structural creative barriers in my life, I decided to create a few goals. They are:

1. “Invite a weirdo to lunch”—I got this idea from attending a keynote address with Polly LaBarre, one of Fast Company’s earliest editors. She mentioned that although you may not become great friends with them, you will at least walk away gaining some insight into a different perspective.

2. Study/Do Homework in a New Location Everyday—Instead of always doing my homework at my apartment and studying in a certain corner of the library, it is about time to change it up. Every day, or at least every other day, I want to challenge myself to visit and explore new places.

3. Create an Idea Journal—Although, I am more left brained than right brained, I still want to carry around with me an idea journal. Any time I get an idea, I’ll be sure to jot it down.

As I accomplish these goals and constantly strive to do better, I know that I can become a much more creative person.

Ethan Parry is a senior at BYU majoring in public relations.

Image credit

Creativity: Will You Try?

What does it mean to be creative? Kyle has been a tinkerer for as long as he can remember, but he didn’t always consider himself as “creative.” As he gained more understanding, he realized that creativity has less to do with inherent abilities and a lot more to do with your attitude and how you approach problems. Are you willing to face-plant? To Try? A creative person is one who is brave enough to use his or her unique set of skills and abilities to solve problems and create solutions.

In addition to his own gaming projects (including a developing game on Hamlet and Dante’s Inferno) Kyle works with a group of students on an alternative reality game called DUST. This project is a collaboration between Brigham Young University, NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the University of Maryland.

When it comes to innovation, Kyle says, “If you want to [do something] creative and innovative, just go out and do it. We all have no idea what we’re doing–some of us just wing it better than others. Give it a try.”


Groundhogs and Valentines: Freshman Creativity at BYU

As a freshman, I learned some important principles of creativity and innovation while planning an unlikely-themed midwinter dance.

When I was an undergraduate at BYU, I served as the John Hall President, a dorm in the Helaman Halls student housing complex (and in case anyone is wondering, it was a guy’s dorm back then). The Helaman Halls leadership committee, which consisted of all of the dorm presidents, worked to establish activities and opportunities for students that would be memorable and meaningful. Dances typically were successful activities. During our January meeting as we discussed a dance for February we sought to find an appropriate theme for the dance. Of course, Valentine’s Day seemed like a perfect context for providing a relevant dance theme. However, our dance was scheduled for a week before Valentine’s Day. Our group thought it was a bit silly to celebrate Valentine’s that far in advance (sure, Christmas parties throughout Christmas, but Valentine’s parties for two or three weeks in advance? We didn’t think so).

Then someone suggested we do a Groundhog Day theme. That sounded like an unexpected and fun theme to a bunch of freshman planners. But again, the dance would be a week later than Groundhog Day. Now what? We couldn’t do a dance on the day of romance and our creative ideas to do a Groundhog Day theme had likewise been compromised by the calendar.

We were all stumped, looking at each other. The puzzled silence was uncharacteristic of our lively group.

Then someone asked one of the great questions of creativity: “What if?” “What if we combined themes?” Another person exclaimed in the affirmative, “Yeah!” Soon another person, building on the new momentum of a creative moment, added “Groundhogs and Valentines.” The conversation continued with energy and buzz until we landed on this: “Shadows of Young Ground Hogs Falling in Love!” It was brilliant, absolutely cheesy, and only relevant to freshman at BYU. I can’t imagine this idea gaining traction anywhere else! But for an audience of BYU freshman looking forward to a dance in the doldrums of winter, this was probably the most unexpected and yet welcomed theme possible. The activity was a smashing success. There were even a few girls who actually said yes when I asked them to dance.

The principles I learned from those fun moments of creativity and planning are these:

• Involve a diverse group of people

• Trust one another

• Seek playfulness

• Listen to others

• Be willing to take risks doing something new and unexpected

When have your creative moments taken an unexpected turn?


Taylor Halverson, Ph.D

Teaching & Learning Consultant

Co-Chair, Creativity, Innovation, & Design

BYU3800 HBLL, Provo UT 84602