A Personal Message from Gerald “Solutionman” Haman

Gerald Haman, photo for New York Times article, March 30, 2004.

“In a survey of 1,000 senior executives from around the world, Business Week reported that 72% named innovation as one of their top three priorities. But almost half said they were dissatisfied with the returns on their investments in that area.

And a few months prior, Business Week reported a survey of more than 900 human-resources managers and 4,500 leaders in other corporate departments across 42 countries and 36 industries.

It asked leaders the following question…

“In your organization, which of the following leader qualities gets the most respect? Non-HR managers were asked to choose just one answer, with choices ranging from ‘ability to bring in the numbers’ to ‘integrity or ethics.’

The percentage of North American leaders who checked ‘creativity or innovation’ as the most respected quality (just 4%), tied with ‘technical expertise’ for second-to-last place.”

So 72% of senior executives say “innovation” is one of their top three priorities, while only 4% of managers and leaders rank “creativity and innovation” as the most respected leadership qualities within their organization.

In a survey of 500 CEOs, the American Management Association asked

What must companies do to survive in the twenty-first century?” The CEOs number one answer was “practice creativity and innovation.” But only 6% felt their companies were doing a good job in that area. An additional study showed that the 25% of Fortune 500 firms with the highest growth rates focused on innovation as a guiding principle.

People often use the words creativity and innovation interchangeably; however, there is a distinction.

Creativity is the process of developing new or interesting ideas, and innovation is implementing those ideas into valuable or profitable solutions. Innovation is how firms profit, gain value, or make money from creativity.

in-no-va-tion (n.): an idea in action

Another way to look at this is: Idea + Action = INNOVATION

BUT…..Idea + no action = IMAGINATION

Quotes Related To Innovation

Innovation training is at the core of improving profitability and employee satisfaction.
Innovation can also help companies recruit better people and increase their employee retention rate. People don’t leave their organizations necessarily for greater compensation or managerial reasons; they leave because they want an environment that lets their creativity and imagination soar.

To teach innovation, you need to know how people’s brains work – how they can think through a process that can lead to creativity and innovation.

People used to believe that creativity was a gift that a lucky few were born with. In fact, all people have a degree of creativity — they just lose it as they grow older. Schools don’t foster the imagination; stodgy companies discourage people from taking risks.

Tests show that by the age of 40, most adults are about 2% as creative as they were at age 5.

Education, which teaches us to memorize, follow the rules, think logically and get serious, may be one of the reasons. But you can be taught how to rediscover your creativity.

Having a few simple innovation tools at your disposal can lead to impressive results. Abraham Maslow said, “If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”

How many tools do you have in your innovation toolbox?

The story of the KnowBrainer is an example of my desire to create “the ultimate innovation tool” — a tool that runs on people’s brains instead of computers.

While working at P&G and Arthur Anderson in the 1980s I found that people really did not want another gigantic training binder or book filled with hundreds of pages that collected dust and were never used.

In 1989, I released what Fortune magazine called the world’s first innovation and creativity tool.

The tool was called the Pocket Innovator and it earned a Bronze medal at the Minnesota Inventors Congress. My first order for 2,000 tools was from DEC (Digital Equipment Corp.) and then dozens of news publications gave it favorable reviews.

I then followed up with the Pocket Persuader (an innovative tool for selling ideas) that was very popular at firms like Lucent Technologies and Abbott Laboratories.

My experiences with the Pocket Innovator and Pocket Persuader lead to my desire to create the “mother of all tools” that would combine the best of the Pocket Innovator and Pocket Persuader.

My goal was to design at tool that contained a process for “generating” and “selling” ideas and the result was the KnowBrainer tool.

The original Pocket Innovator had a 7-step process and the Pocket Persuader had a 6-step process.

The process from both of those tools evolved into a whole-brain-based, 4-step process called the Accelerated Innovation Process.

Ten years after the Pocket Innovator was released, the KnowBrainer was released with a better process and, for the first time, questions.

I had been using the Question Banking Process and Questionation Method for over a decade and realized the full power of incorporating the “questions” into the tools.

Each generation of the KnowBrainer tool improved with better questions, better nouns, better verbs, better images, better quotes and better directions. I studied color research to guide the selection of colors and I investigated ergonomics to determine the shape and size of the hand tool.

A word can be worth a thousand pictures, if you have the right word. The KnowBrainer features the top 100 words for guiding the process of innovation – words that took me almost 10 years to identify. 

Through creativity sessions I conducted with more than 100,000 people, I was able to discover which words have the greatest impact and trigger the most ideas.

The improvements were evident when a group of students at Northwestern University and Wayne State University both found that the KnowBrainer increased the volume of ideas by over 500% versus traditional brainstorming.

Over 100,000 people around the globe have used my innovation tools and techniques and I continually collect feedback on the content and user experience. That feedback has been incorporated into the software version of the KnowBrainer called the FlashBrainer and our newest version for the iPhone called the iKnowBrainer

“The KnowBrainer is actually a “search engine” for your amazing brain.”

- Google KnowBrainer Owner

We have also created customized “topical” innovation tools for companies like Kraft Foods and Motorola. By using the KnowBrainer “process” tool with “topical tools” Kraft and Motorola have found some innovative ways to help people accelerate to innovate.

When you follow the steps defined by the KnowBrainer and you’ll see your creative ability start to rise. The KnowBrainer is like software for the brain. The more you use it, the more your brain becomes programmed to think innovatively. I guarantee it”

Create Your Own Innovation Success Story with the KnowBrainer!

Gerald Haman

PS. We work in four different areas. Product innovation is one area, certainly the most visible. Management, manufacturing and marketing are the others. According to our clients, the return on ideas for them has been over $3 billion dollars. It all starts with the KnowBrainer System.

To order your KnowBrainer risk free click here