Effects of Forecasting in Problem Solving

People can improve the quality, originality, and elegance of ideas by extensively forecasting the implication of those ideas during the generation phase. Researchers from The University of Oklahoma studied the effect of forecasting on idea evaluation and implementation planning.

In the experiment, 141 undergraduate students were asked to formulate advertising campaigns for a new product. These campaigns were evaluated by a panel of judges. Prior to formulating the campaigns, participants were asked to forecast the implication of their ideas and the forecast the effects of a plan for implementing their best idea.

As part of the experiment, students received a hypothetical email from the Vice President of Sales for this new product. Students who mentally imagined the “down the road” effect of their ideas most extensively produced the best ideas.

The use of mental simulation can improve innovation effectiveness. Mental simulation should be used to cognitively “walk through” the steps of the idea generation process. It should also be used to cognitively predict the implications of those ideas.

Given that some people are better than others at extensive forecasting, innovation facilitators need to have scripted directions for the work group on how to extend their thought processes about future events as a way to boost originality in ideating.

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