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The Only Business Metric That Matters


15 min read
7 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Understand how new ideas happen to grow your team’s most important resource.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Concrete Examples
  • Inspiring


Do you struggle to find your next breakthrough idea? Innovative ideas are an essential ingredient of business success, but often, they remain elusive. According to design experts Jeremy Utley and Perry Klebahn, the question isn’t how to have one brilliant idea, but how to foster a practice of idea generation. In this practical text, Utley and Klebahn offer techniques for encouraging a free flow of ideas, and explain why quantity is a crucial creativity metric. Their guidance will help anyone who is looking to unleash his or her personal creative potential, or that of a team.


Any real problem will need a flood of new ideas to solve it.

A problem is anything you don’t yet know how to solve. If you already know how to solve a problem, then it’s only a task. When you have an issue at work that you keep coming back to, but have no answer for, you must think creatively.

When you focus on interesting problems instead of pushing yourself to just come up with innovative ideas, you open yourself up to new possibilities. Trying to dream up a good idea out of nowhere activates your inner critic and causes you to reject thoughts that don’t seem immediately relevant. Unsolved problems, on the other hand, suggest multiple, open-ended avenues of exploration. They propel your mind to start making new connections. 

The brain can’t make something out of nothing. People excel at creating new connections between pre-existing ideas. Consider the following two, seemingly unrelated, scenarios:

  • People with young children in San Francisco struggle to push their strollers up the city’s steep hills.
  • As a child in the suburbs, your family mowed the lawn with a ride-on mower...

About the Authors

Jeremy Utley is director of executive education at Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design – known as the Perry Klebahn is an entrepreneur and co-founding faculty member at the

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