4 Tips for Turning Ideas into Innovations

If you’re developing a new product, getting the right feedback can make or break you, says Duane Bray, a University of Florida grad who was speaking with students at the College of Engineering. He was invited by UF College of Engineering entrepreneur-in-residence David Whitney, who regularly brings in speakers through the Engineering Innovation Institute. Bray is a partner in IDEO, a New York-based design and innovation company.

“IDEO’s approach incorporates innovation, usability and culture,” says Erik Sander, the director of industry programs for the College of Engineering.

Bray’s talk, titled “Ideation: Turning Ideas into Innovations,” offered several valuable points for business owners, including the following:

Look through the consumer’s eyes—literally. Bray shared the story of how, by filming a patient’s personal experience, IDEO helped a hospital make a significant improvement in patient interactions. When the hospital staff watched the video, they were able to see the poor patient experience. “They talked about him in third person and never addressed him,” Bray said of the hospital staff.

The staff also didn’t notice the drab walls and ceilings. Three hours of footage opened the eyes of the hospital employees. As a solution, the hospital placed white boards in ER patient rooms. Staff would write their names and roles, and family could write notes or sketch pictures.

Look to other business models, or “analogous” situations, for solutions. Bray’s company was asked to help find a more efficient way for a hospital’s surgery team to perform surgery. They were inspired by a NASCAR pit crew to streamline the surgical duties. “Every person in the crew has designated jobs; only one person in the crew tells the driver when to go,” Bray said.

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