Five Shortcuts to Breakthrough Ideas by Kaihan Krippendorff

We are passionate about understanding how the strategic conversations you hold – in boardrooms or hallways – can lead to breakthrough ideas … and why so often they don’t. We have found five mistakes teams often make that tend to kill off the most exciting strategic possibilities, and we’ve come up with a way to counter each mistake, called the IDEAS framework (Imagine, Dissect, Expand, Analyze, Sell).

In this article, I share this framework with you, in addition to a special announcement about a new program we are launching this month (see below).

If you have attended one of our Outthinker workshops, here is a refresher of the IDEAS process. If you have not, here is a “CliffsNotes” version you can apply, today, to come up with a more innovative, disruptive strategic option. If you manage the five phases of your strategic conversations in the way we advocate, you can enable big ideas to make it through your team’s dialogues and launch them into the world.


Different thinking is only needed when you have a problem you cannot solve with the current way of thinking. So, when you set up your strategy discussion, start by setting an impossible goal.


We all tend to look in the same areas of the problem for a solution. Marketers look at marketing strategies, technologists at product innovations, and human resource people at HR strategies. None of us are immune to the pull of the familiar. So, before you start ideating, step back, dissect the problem, and focus your team on the less-obvious points of leverage. As part of this process, during our Outthinker workshops, we help you apply a framework of eight places to look called the “8Ps:” product, pricing, placement, promotion, positioning, processes, physical experience, and people.


The more ideas you generate, the more likely you are to find a breakthrough idea. Unfortunately, too often we narrow down too early, so have too few ideas to pick from. By applying “strategic narratives” – essentially patterns of strategy – to your problem, you can naturally generate a greater number of more innovative ideas. During our Outthinker workshops, we help you brainstorm ideas by walking you through a catalog of 36 strategic narratives such as move early to the next battleground, coordinate what is uncoordinated, or create something out of nothing.


Having brainstormed many potential strategies, the next step is to sort through and select which ideas your team will advance with. Because your most disruptive ideas will initially look impossible (remember Roger Martin’s warning that you can kill off any new idea by asking to “prove it”), you need to sort through your ideas in a particular way, giving your team time to suspend judgment on the seemingly “crazy” ideas. You will often find that an idea you were about to laugh off as a joke actually reveals itself as remarkably promising in just ten minutes of exploration.


The key difference between successful serial innovators and frustrated ones is that the successful ones view the political challenge as part of the problem-solving process. So the final stage, as you are working with your team, is to lay out an influencing strategy: identify the stakeholders (investors, partners, colleagues, gatekeepers) you need and thinking through how to get them on board.

Delivering radical results

If you go through these steps – Imagine, Dissect, Expand, Analyze, Sell – you will have a much greater chance of finding an innovative, disruptive strategy that can deliver radical results. The online course we are about to launch walks you, step-by-step, through this process. I hope you get a chance to experience it.

To that end, I’m thrilled to share a new program with you that will deliver the Outthinker experience in a new way.


We’re launching an amazing Master Business course, through the Gazelles Growth Institute, called “Outthink Your Competition With a 5-Step Process”.

It’s a self-paced online experience that walks students, step-by-step, through the IDEAS framework, which I just summarized above.  Our course is a perfect way to introduce new people to Outthinker or provide a review for those who are already familiar with the process and its benefits.

Because this is a new course, we’re giving our existing community an exclusive, one-time introductory offer. If you register for the course by July 31, you will get 20% off your first registration and up to 44% off for additional colleagues who register for the course. Click here to find out more about the course and to enroll.


If you have any questions about this course or any of our Outthinker programs, we’d love to talk with you. Please feel free to call my associate, Soyini, at 404-643-7643.

Best Regards,

Kaihan Krippendorff