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How to have breakthrough ideas

22 November 2023 • by Cyril Bouquet in Innovation

Innovation can seem like an abstract concept, when in fact it’s a potent creative force. What you need is the right mindset ...

Successful innovation means breaking free from conventional thinking and being willing to embrace new perspectives. That’s when breakthrough ideas happen – ideas that will generate tangible value and drive transformational change. This way of thinking might seem totally alien – and that’s the point.

Cyril Bouquet, Professor of Strategy and Innovation and author of ALIEN Thinking: The Unconventional Path to Breakthrough Ideas, offers the acronym ALIEN as a framework to encourage people to cultivate the mindset that’s needed for true innovation to flourish.

1. Attention

Cultivate a heightened awareness of your surroundings, allowing yourself to notice details that others might overlook.

2. Levitation

Create mental space, allowing your brain to break free from the confines of sequential thinking patterns.

3. Imagination

Foster connections between seemingly disparate ideas, drawing inspiration from diverse perspectives.

4. Experimentation

Approach experimentation with an open mind, viewing it as a journey of refinement rather than a mere exercise in validation.

5. Navigation

Extract valuable lessons from your experiments, continuously refining your ideas as you navigate the ever-evolving landscape of innovation.

“As innovators, we often face the challenge of introducing new ideas that may contradict established norms or procedures,” says Reynaldo P. Velasco, Chief Communications Officer at Castlekeep. “The ‘Navigating’ element from the ‘ALIEN’ framework suggests that we can present our innovative ideas in a way that doesn‘t trigger immediate resistance from the organization.“

Learn more about the book here.

This article is inspired by a session at IMD’s Orchestrating Winning Performance in Singapore, which brings together executives from diverse sectors and geographies for a week of intense learning and sharing with IMD faculty and business experts.


Cyril Bouquet - IMD Professor

Cyril Bouquet

Professor of Innovation and Strategy at IMD

Cyril Bouquet is Director of the Innovation in Action program. As an IMD professor, his research has gained significant recognition in the field. He helps organizations reinvent themselves by letting their top executives explore the future they want to create together.


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