Where to Steal for the Best Ideas – Idea Holiday

stealingMaybe you believe that stealing ideas is not very creative or original.Or even that it is unethical. However, there are idea banks where people post, exchange, discuss and polish new ideas, just for the intellectual pleasure of devising ideas and the social rewards of sharing them. Some people approach idea banks just to get inspiration and getting into the mood of making a creative effort for something they are working on.

A good example of ‘taking a holiday” from our daily short time and quick solution oriented thinking can be found in the Siemens Ideas Bank, which is focused on technologies for basic needs. You will find inspirational ideas about:

  • Energy
  • Waste management and recycling
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Water and waste water
  • Health care
  • Housing and construction
  • ICT-solutions
  • Integral solutions

Other, sometimes hilarious but also serious ideas can be found in Halfbakery, like the mini segway executive chair. Simple and practical ideas can be found in An Idea A Day, like political ideas to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict.

For ideas about social innovation – the design of social arrangements – look at the book The Global Ideas Bank – 500 ways to change the world.

So take a holiday and visit interesting ideas!

idea holiday

Marketing Strategies for Beggars – Thinkibility Nibble


There are roughly three strategies to help beggars – those who are for some reason find themselves jobless and have to collect money on the streets.

One approach is to take away the most pressing discomfort and distress by providing them with food, a shower, and shelter during the night. Another approach is to provide them with some income by giving them the opportunity to sell street newspapers, which also seems to strengthen social networks and self-esteem. Sometimes beggars are also involved in keeping an eye on the streets and cleanness in a public space. A third approach is to offer them a home in return for medical and psychiatric treatment, an initiative originated in New York.

Yet we have never found  a study or a campaign by a renowned marketing bureau like IDEO to help beggars to collect more cash. But beggars could be helped by teaching them some marketing techniques.

Most beggar’s marketing strategy is based on the idea that they should provoke pity. Some spend the day sitting on the street with a cardboard where they have written messages such as I have four kids, no income or I am jobless. Some beggars choose a more emotionally loaded place for provoking pity and guiltiness: entrances of churches, or well-filled food stores. Beggars with a more elaborated marketing strategy show their amputated limbs, display their last medicines in front of them or show humility by sitting for hours on their knees with a stretched back, murmuring for a deed of generosity.

But many beggars sit passively for hours. We have seen beggars who read a book, seemingly disconnected and detached from the collection of the money.

What marketing opportunities are missed here?

Why not a cardboard with: “I have been a philosopher”, or ” I am studying to qualify for a job outside my initial education”. or “I pray and read the bible for your salvation”?

Sometimes we have come across someone who refers to his or her website, this is something that we think is a real marketing innovation. Follow me on Twitter. Look at my LinkedIn profile before I lost my job, my home and my wife.Visit Pinterest or Instagram for pictures of my most favourite places to beg.


And look at this touching example of the use of storytelling: ” It is a beautiful day and I can’t see it”

LEGO Rich!

“Are you LEGO rich? Do you have an idea for a LEGO set? And are you a Creative consumer?”

Yes, adults play with LEGO too and there are over 250.000 registered members of LEGO User Groups throughout the world. LEGO, one of the most creative brands in the world, is using its fan community to develop ideas. The company has over 10 million Facebook fans.

Watch this wonderful inspiring TED talk about the dark ages of LEGO and how to be LEGO rich and spending time playing and learning.

Traditionally companies have looked for ideas within the company but this approach is changing. Today, consumers are encouraged by some companies to be engaged and involved in the development of products. Companies such as LEGO has recognized the power and creative ideas of its fan base. Instead of passive consumers, creative and engaged consumers’ ideas are used and valued.

Several changes have lead to this approach, among them the easier access to the market and people. This means that perception of a distant consumer has changed and it makes sense to use and develop consumers’ ideas. Consumers have after all insight into their own needs and desires. However, it is important to note that consumers are not always right and often there is a need to develop their ideas and suggestions.

The LEGO user groups are not owned by the LEGO group instead they are groups that exist both online  and offline that are run and owned by the users themselves. Thus, the communities are self-organized and self-owned.

The LEGO group uses a platform where users can upload their ideas and other users help to select interesting ideas. The company they co-creates products and an user’s idea may become part of the LEGO product assortment. The person entering an idea gets compensation if the original idea is commercialised.

It starts with an “idea”—a spark of inspiration.

LEGO Ideas accepts your ideas for new LEGO sets in the form of a “project.” A project includes photos of a LEGO model you create as well as a written description that becomes your proposal for a potential LEGO product.”

Can you use a similar approach in your company? Or can you sell this idea to a company?

Here is a link to a success story and some pictures of the product. You may also like the blog post about Creativity the LEGO-way.


T29 – Day 23

eeeeDay 23 – Creativity

Think out-of-the box and devise a creative way to storage and supply in supermarkets.

The storage and resupply in supermarkets have not changed since the concept was introduced around 1960.

It costs a lot of man power, shoppers experience inconvenience, it is slow and it is not integrated in the whole logistic chain from factory to shop.

Do not spend more than 5 minutes. If you think the exercise is interesting, spend another 5 minutes, but not before you have had a two hours break. Otherwise there is a chance that you circle around with the same ideas again and again.


Thinkbility Day 23


T29 – Day 21


Day 21- 23 – Creativity

There are a range of techniques that can be used to help you create something new and valuable.

Distancing is similar to Backward Thinking – a thinking strategy to avoid mental inertia or being locked in one’s logic bubble.

Distancing means that we create deliberately some emotional, psychological and mental distance towards the problem situation or thinking challenge.

There are several ways to distance ourselves.

  • Image the problem challenge is not now and here, but somewhere else. For example, in another continent and years ahead.
  • Redefine the problem in neutral terms in order to avoid associations to the standard or normal way of seeing things. Using abstract terms, which have no relation to the existing meaning of the word. For example, the problem of wild cats who steal food from the domestic pets could be redefined into a movable object interrupts the properly functioning of another movable object.
  • Image how someone else, unrelated to the field, would solve the problem. To enhance their cooperation teams for heart operations consulted on an aircraft carrier, plumbers and a pitch stop teams at car races.
  • Image how many little dwarfs would attack the problem.
  • Change the dimensions of the problem. What would happen as the length of an object was five times more?
  • Identify a reference class of past, similar problem situations or thinking challenges. This is especial fruitful when forecasting or assessing risks. (Reference Class Forecasting)

Using a random object, picture or word is another way to trigger ideas. Also we can introduce randomness in our daily  life to break our thinking pattern.

  • Visit a museum at random
  • Go to a movie theater and watch the movie in the room  you have tossed with a die
  • Go to a training center, and follow the course which is given on the first floor, second room
  • Buy a magazine you would never buy
  • Read a different newspaper than you usually read
  • Don’t plan your holiday, go with the flow, the weather and your spirit. Don’t make reservations in hotels or camping sites
  • Change the way you commute to your work
  • Engage in unusual encounters
  • Organize a party for not-acquaintances
  • Go to that theater you have never been to
  • Engage in a conversation with an arbitrary person
  • If you have two alternatives, throw a dime to decide what to do
  • Eat your lunch with other people than from your department
  • Avoid your standard hang-out places
  • Buy a book you will never buy for yourself.
  • Extend your library size and diversity

Blog posts:

Provoke Randomness as a Thinking Strategy

Think creatively

Thinking Outside the Box

Distancing – A Thinking Strategy

Sunken office

Day 21- 23 – Creativity

Let’s be creative with the word Creativity!

A playful approach is a vital component in creative thinking. Play with the word creativity – choose your own method or combine several approaches. We are referring to a creative approach to thinking rather than creativity in the sense of activities such as painting, or creative flower arrangement.

You can:

  • Draw or doodle the word – use pencils, crayons, water colour. . .
  • Make a list of creative ideas that other people has had and improve upon them.
  • Write a song or poem about the word.
  • Look up metaphors for the word, such as “thinking outside the box”, and then write your own metaphors

Here is a list of some alternatives to a creative approach to thinking to get you started.

  • looking for alternatives
  • productive thinking
  • breakthrough thinking
  • escaping thinking patterns
  • thinking differently
  • lateral thinking
  • radical removal of a contradiction
  • innovative thinking
  • anticonventional thinking
  • disruptive thinking
  • putting forward something that not existed before
  • non logical thinking (but not illogical)


Thinkibility Day 21


Bacterial Lamp – Thinkibility Nibble

“I aim to create a living lamp that needs as little care as a houseplant.”

Teresa van Dongen

Have you ever watched a stretch of beach lit up by bioluminescent plankton? Glowing bioluminescent waves and organisms have been used as inspiration  and innovative solutions to human problems. The zero electricity lamp was designed by Design Academy Eindhoven graduate student Teresa van Dongen.

Thus, in this case a designer looked into the possibility of using biomimicry to create a lamp that glows with bioluminescent bacteria.  The invention was not from an engineer  nor  a biologist nor a technology or biology student . The idea to design a lamp came before the practicalities with using bacteria were explored.

This “upside down” approach is interesting for several reasons and we will explore this design process in more detail in the next blog post.


 The Ambio lamp is made of a  steel frame that holds a glass tube. The tube is filled with artificial seawater and bacteria from an octopus. The lamp glows when the bacteria are oxygenated, which is done by pushing the frame so that the lamp beings to rock. The technical aspects of this lamp may need some further researcher – the bacteria can only live about three days before they need to be replaced. Yet, this a step towards developing sustainable products for the home.

We have previously written about Blue Economy – an approach towards innovation where sustainability is the result of a production process that is integrated as an ecosystem – and  bioluminescence  and biomimicry. Have a look at this blog posts if you have not read them before.



Brainstorm Warning – No Cool Ideas Found

Counting man hands (0 to 5) isolated on white background

Jeffrey Baumgartner describes himself as “Not your typical, corporate innovation consultant”. Below you can listen to his recent independently organised TED talk, which has been described as “An energetic & stimulating speech on the future of creative idea generation!!” — organisers of TEDxULB.

Jeffrey is the co-founder of the Brussels Imagination Club which holds experimental workshops twice a month on  “just about anything”. In the video below he explores this goal-oriented approach to thinking. He discusses questions such as:

  • Is it bad to criticize ideas during a brainstorming session?
  • What would an alternative to brainstorming look like?
  • How do  you deal with crazy ideas?
  • How do you formulate a sexy or extreme goal that is provocative, desirable and interesting?

You can download a PDF-file about Anticonventional Thinking (ACT)  here.