NEW TOOL ASSESSES THE CREATIVE VALUE OF ANY NEW IDEA
NEW YORK – In the worlds of business in general and marketing in particular, creative ideas are the most valuable currency. Ideally, they lead to great success but, in some cases, can lead to colossal failure. To get ahead of the game, researchers from Columbia Business School faculty have identified a way to determine an idea’s perceived creativeness simply by looking at the words – and combination of those words - used to explain that idea.
Olivier Toubia, Glaubinger Professor of Business, and Oded Netzer, Professor of Business from Columbia Business School are co-authors of this first of its kind research entitled, Idea Generation, Creativity, and Prototypicality. Automatically evaluating thousands of ideas using the new online tool created by the professors they find that ideas with a good balance between novel and familiar combinations of words, are deemed to be creative.
“Just like cooking, every idea that is generated can be considered a recipe with various ingredients,” said Professor Toubia. “By modifying an idea’s ‘recipe’ and combining familiar words along with some novel words, one can create the perfect combination for a creative idea.”
To test the online tool, the professors conducted a series of eight experiments for which participants generated more than 4,000 ideas on specific topics, which were then divided among each experiment.
In one experiment, the researchers worked with an international health and beauty company that was looking for ideas for new oral care solutions targeted to women over the age of 40. More than 200 ideas were evaluated by the online tool on behalf of the company; of the 220, 89 ideas were determined to be “creative” by the tool and were thus passed on to the company for consideration.
“Despite popular belief, creative ideas don’t just appear out of thin air; in many cases, they are the result of an arduous and lengthy process of idea generation,” said Professor Netzer. “Our experiments proved that the online tool was successful not only in identifying promising ideas, but also in demonstrating the capability for improving ideas by proposing words – and combination of words – that may serve as ‘ingredients’ for ideas.”
By diving into the tool’s analysis of more than 4,000 ideas, Toubia and Netzer were able to uncover the two main ingredients that make an idea creative: a well-balanced combination of familiarity and novelty. According to the professors, the tool, which can be found at protoideation.org, can best be used to:
· Streamline the idea screening process by identifying ideas with the greatest creative value;
· Support the idea generation process by offering suggestions for better word combinations (i.e. novel and familiar); and,
· Help businesses run more effectively and efficiently overall.
To learn more about the cutting-edge ideas being created at Columbia Business School, please visit www.gsb.columbia.edu.
About the researchers
Professor Netzer's research centers on one of the major business challenges of the data-rich environment of the 21st century: developing quantitative methods that...Read more.
Olivier Toubia is the Glaubinger Professor of Business at Columbia Business School. His research focuses on various aspects of innovation (including idea generation, preference...Read more.