The term hack or hacking comes with some negative connotations, so first-off let’s get some clarity on what the term means in this sense. Hacking is the process to taking something that works and is functional, but then changing or enhancing it to either do the thing it was designed to do better or do another job.

ikea hackersSearching on #ideahack online will give you some spectacular examples of what can be achieved. A great example of hacking is the site which has literally thousands of ideas for turning an Ikea piece or pieces into something else. I so recommend going on this site and taking a look at some of the hacks. They are brilliant.

Idea Hacking (rather than ikea hacking) is a brilliant technique to get people creating ideas in a fun and stimulating way because you are not asking for brand new ideas, but ideas for new combinations, purposes and functions for an existing product. If the aim is to help people see how easy it is to get ideas flowing, this is a great tool.

Mars-barAn ideahack that works well as an example is to take the humble Mars bar – something that has lasted the test (or taste) of time and is incredibly simple. The first hack is to re-order the components – so rather than a nougat base with caramel on top then encased in chocolate you can quickly get to half a dozen combinations – my preferred option would be a chocolate base with a light nougat top encased in a brittle caramel.

We could then hack the format so rather than a bar, let’s put it through a roller and get a wide, thin bar, or even hack the bar into a biscuit or cake and again, the ideas will flow easily or even hack the solid format into a drink.

Then we could hack the utility so rather than it being a high calorie food item it becomes an energy gel – or even hack the idea that it’s something we consume and turn it into something completely different. Now, there’s a point at which I’m going to be pushing the Mars bar example a little too far, but stick with me here…you could hack the business model so perhaps rather than relying on a retail supply chain, could we hack it and make it special enough that we could sell it on a subscription model like some health supplements. We could even hack the pricing model – Mars bar are priced like most other chocolate bars on the shelf, what if we hack it to be the most expensive chocolate bar – the chocolate that we buy on a special occasion or take to a dinner party, what would that look like?

So you can see, when we take a simple technique (and this is just one of many) we can quickly and simply get to dozens and dozens or even hundreds of ideas. Brilliant Ideas #152-160 are exactly that and can be seen on this blog post.

You need to take this technique and run an idea hack at your organisation. Bring some of your products and, armed with this new tool invite people to hack them and see what happens!