• Johannes Mutzke

A Practical Roadmap for Getting the Most Out of Analogous Experiences

I recently wrote about the power of analogous inspiration to free you from “lame ideas” and ignite creativity and provide a fresh perspective on your ideation efforts. In this post, I’d like to go a step further by providing you a practical “how-to guide” that will help you get started and ensure you get the most out of your analogous experience.




1. Clarify your game-changer. This doesn’t mean you’ve pre-determined your solution, but it assumes you have a clear angle (or at least a starting point) on what you think could “change the game” for your customer – examples: bundling, taking a pain away, helping make choices, simplify complexity, etc.


2. Establish an analogous lens(es). What would you like to learn from your analogous experience? Suppose we choose the angle of simplification in step-1. Is it simplification by saving time?…simplification by providing shortcuts?…simplification by making something complex seem accessible? You may have more than 1, but it helps to list them so you can stay true to what you’re looking for (and prevents it from becoming an aimless boondoggle).


3. Choose the analogous experience. Where can you go to see through the lens selected in step 2?…and what specific questions would you seek to answer? Again, if we go with the game-changer of simplification (step 1) and the lens of “making something complex seem accessible” (step 2), several destinations come to mind – a financial planner, a hotel concierge, a Genius-Bar technician at the Apple Store…others?


4. Experience it! As you go to your destination try to really experience the service, not just observe. While certain situations may make this challenging, you’ll find the impact exponential if you “feel it in your own skin” versus “just observing it.” Yes, that means…sit through a financial planning session, get a hotel concierge to advise you on an excursion (and do it!), get a phone fixed…


5. Debrief and leverage insights for ideation. Now loop back to step 1-2…How did the analogous service achieve the result (example: “make something complex accessible”)? Reflect on the experience…list the ways they do it (example – by creating a plan, by bundling options, by pairing me with an expert…). Then ask yourself the question: “how might we apply that to our game-changer” (example: simplification)? Let the creative ideas fly!


So, what are you waiting for? Not only do you reap the benefit of higher quality ideas, but it also gets your team out of their comfort zone into an “explorer’s mindset” as they venture into the great unknown to experience, observe, learn and apply. Go!


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