The DNA of Innovation

Innovation is often reduced to brainstormings. And brainstormings often don’t work. The BrainStore team has deciphered the DNA of innovation and identified 34 building blocks in six categories:

  1. Briefing
  2. Community
  3. Motivation
  4. Idea Machine Process
  5. Road Maps
  6. Innovation Culture

All building blocks are based on common sense. A smart 12 year old understands the meaning of each building block. Successful innovation work happens when you consider all six categories and reflect on where to invest your time and energy.

To learn more about the DNA of Innovation you can attend the BrainStore Innovation Champ Training.

Feel free to download The DNA of Innovation Poster (PDF).

The Overview

Start with good briefings

Getting a good briefing requires two roles: the customer (needs an idea) and the Innovation Champ (supports the customer to find solutions). Before you start an innovation process, make sure you have the information you need. Place the information in the 6 briefing parts.

Briefing 1.1

The situation

Verifiable facts and figures in the context of the project, style Wikipedia.

Briefing 1.2

The purpose (DNA 6.1)

What is the customers general purpose (independent of the project)?

Briefing 1.3

The Road Map (DNA 5)

Information about the planned initiatives in line with the purpose. Provides the big picture.

Briefing 1.4

The project related goals

What are the goals of the innovation project?

Briefing 1.5

The desired results

What is the desired outcome? Deadlines? What resources are available?

Briefing 1.6

The success criteria

How do we measure the success of the project?

Compose a Creating Community

The outcome of an innovation process depends largely on the composition of the community. Don't expect great ideas by bringing together people who think alike and work together every day. Bring in a mix of innovators to conjure refreshing, disturbing, provocative thinking. Dissent adds flavor!

Creating Community 2.1

Inside viewpoint

Involve participants from within the organization. E.g. production, R&D, sales, back office

Creating Community 2.2

Target group

Involve the target group when you create ideas! You will surprised how much they can contribute

Creating Community 2.3

The "political" side

Involve those who enable and prevent change. E.g. managers, sponsors, investors, Dr. No

Creating Community 2.4

External experts

External experts, who are not familiar with the topic, provide fresh ideas and insights.

Creating Community 2.5

Lateral thinkers

Invite people who catalyze creative thinking. Teenagers, students, artists, freaks!

Creating Community 2.6

Organizing team

The organizing team manages the process. Don't mix organizers + participants!

Motivate your community

In a world full of distraction and activism, it is a big challenge to make sure innovators are motivated. Champs often forget about this vital factor, especially in ongoing innovation work. This leads to many projects going dormant after an invigorating launch.

Motivation 3.1

Briefing highlights (DNA 1)

Share the briefing highlights. Interesting challenges motivate!

Motivation 3.2

People!(DNA 2)

Work with well composed teams! It's very motivating to meet and work with interesting people.

Motivation 3.3

Food, drinks, location

Simple things like nice food, good drinks or an unusual location have a big impact on motivation.

Motivation 3.4

Share credits

Share the credits for the outcome with all participants. Let participants share their experience.

Motivation 3.5


Some participants might expect or simply depend on being paid for participating.

Motivation 3.6

Be nice, communicate well

Say please + thank you and keep participants updated: it's motivating and a good investment.

Use the Idea Machine to create ideas

Innovation projects are often initiated without a clear idea of the process. By using the BrainStore Idea Machine, you can fully focus on people and content and don't need to worry about designing the process. The beauty of the Idea Machine Process: it's simple, scalable, replicable and robust.

Idea Machine Process 4.1


Identify good questions, associate suitable tools, organize location and equipment.

Idea Machine Process 4.2


Inspiring techniques lead to many ideas and inputs. Results are well documented. Quantitative goals!

Idea Machine Process 4.3


Participants now identify good ideas. They discover, combine and enhance. Qualitative goals!

Idea Machine Process 4.4

Like, analyze, refine!

Participants point out the ideas they like. Results are analyzed based on success criteria + refined

Idea Machine Process 4.5

Create comparability

Leading ideas are now brought into comparable formats: visuals and context are provided.

Idea Machine Process 4.6

Idea Selection

Get open, anonymous feedback, identify acceptance + polarization before designing the Road Map

Place leading ideas on Road Maps

The Road Map is where the big picture of innovation comes together. What should happen now, what comes then, what later and what might we consider doing? By designing your Road Map, you automatically think about sequence and resources. Use the results from the Idea Selection (DNA 4.6)

Road Maps 5.1

The Now

What should we be working on now?

Road Maps 5.2

The Then

What comes then?

Road Maps 5.3

The Later

What do we have in mind for later on?

Road Maps 5.4

The Maybe

What might we consider doing?

Improve your Innovation Culture

Building and improving your innovation culture never ends. It starts with the essential question "what is our purpose?". Learn how to interact as a team - this is especially relevant for innovators as they are - by nature of the topic - dealing with the new and unknown.

Innovation Culture 6.1

The purpose

Know the purpose, the "why"! The purpose of your organization is the key driver for innovation work.

Innovation Culture 6.2

Code of Conduct

Replace rules and regulations with a smart Code of Conduct. Reflect on how to deal with failure.

Innovation Culture 6.3

Agile working

Work in cycles and create shippable value with every cycle. Resolve the leadership trilemma!

Innovation Culture 6.4


Clear roles (ideally customer, champ, team member + facilitator) improve efficiency + satisfaction

Innovation Culture 6.5

Tools and processes

Agree on and work with common tools and processes. E.g. briefings, road maps, cycle boards

Innovation Culture 6.6


Innovators need time, space, access to external resources, money. And peace of mind.