Reverse Innovation flips the normal brainstorming exercise so rather than asking for instance, “ideas to improve the client on-boarding process”, reverse it and ask, “if we were trying to offer the worst possible experience for a new client – if we wanted to win a new client, but make them want to leave us immediately before they buy anything from us, what could we do”?
It’s brilliantly effective because it can be significantly easier for people to engage this way than with coming up with ideas. Because we’re asking for insights and observations (and the odd joke comment) rather than ideas, there’s no wrong answer – the people that might hold back for fear of looking stupid can contribute because it’s loads of fun and gets people talking.
The key is to then get the insights down – don’t filter them or allow people say “we do this, or we don’t do this”, just get them down – ideally on post-it notes on a wall.
Once you feel as though you’re running short of insights, stop and try re-organise them into some kind of journey from left to right.
Then, one by one ask, “what’s the reverse of this” and put these on a different colour post-it below it. Lastly ask, “do we do this”? If no, it’s as a potential idea and mark it in another colour post-it.
So, to extend my example of the client on-boarding process, we might have identified that “allowing sales people to sell something that the company doesn’t make would be a brilliant way of annoying a customer”. The reverse of this is “ensure sales people only sell what the company makes”. Assume in this case it has been known for the sales person to sell something that the company doesn’t make (shock horror). The idea to stop this from happening might be for instance, a product matrix that shows, in an easy format, what product combinations can be sold and an escalation process if the sales person gets it wrong.