This approach is heavily influenced by my work with IDEO and my own experience in running innovation. The notion of an observed insight serves as the foundation for my thinking but is accessible to everyone. If you dig the idea and want to participate, send them along. The formula is essentially:
Notice + Capture + Chew + Distill + Refine = Observed Insight
Notice is all about paying attention. The point is to be aware of your environment and on the make for noticing the unmet needs, compensating behaviors and organic solutions by people.
Capture is grabbing that thing you noticed. A quick jot in a notebook (I’m a sucker for 50 State Field Notes and this pen) or a cell snapshot can be just fine. Deeper, more personal interviews or video are great as well. The point here is to make sure you have something you can work with and eventually share.
Chew. The moment of bringing your own brain and background to the task at hand. After getting the capture down, spend some time with what you observed. This is not dissimilar to James Webb Young’s work on producing ideas. Unless you are continuously browsing and exploring the world, you won’t have the juice to bring anything unique to the game. With good secondary inspiration and time, your brain will make new associations and insights that are individual to you.
Distill takes your chew work – which will inherently be a little raw and unfocused – and gets to the essence of your new thoughts. What themes emerged? What questions need to be answered? Any potential solutions in there? Take those and concentrate them into key points.
Refine makes your insight available for public consumption. Anything from a blog post to a tweet to a kickin’ framework will do. They goal here is introduce clarity and possibly create a content object that can be easily distributed across the web.
Hopefully, I (and now you) have something new that’s help define the world a little bit more.