Using Innovation to Buy Better Gifts

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, and if you’re anything like me, you are no where near finished buying holiday gifts for your list of loved ones, colleagues, and/or customers. 

The reason I didn’t take advantage of all the deals was that I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to buy for people yet. I did try to browse and be struck by inspiration, scrolling through pages and pages of products. But then I became paralyzed by the options and just couldn’t make decisions.

So whenever I am stuck like this, I use one of my favorite techniques for inventing ideas or solving problems - I turn to Mind Mapping. You catch a quick class on Mind Mapping here.

Mind Mapping, like all of the methods that we teach as a part of the Innovation Engineering curriculum, can be used for both professional or personal purposes. And we know that when we use new thinking tools in our personal lives, we get practice and gain the confidence to use them in our professional lives. So I encourage you to take this simple one for a spin at home. And who knows, it just might make its way into your next brainstorm or working meeting. 

Here’s how to use Mind Mapping to com up with a Meaningful and Unique gift idea for each person on your list. Plus, you’ll find an example below with ideas for my Mom!

  1. Start with someone you need to think of a gift for. Put their name in the center bubble of a blank sheet of paper. For example, “Gift Ideas for Mom”
  2. Now we need inspiration. So we’ll make a series of first branches to help guide our ideas. Create 1-3 branches radiating from the center listing each of her interests. Create 1-3 branches radiating from the center listing life events or vacations she has coming up. Finally, if you are feeling bold, make a branch or two with something kind of whacky - like a current trend or cultural phenomenon (read Start Wards from the example).
  3. Now you have a place to start. From each branch, start to free associate. Don’t worry abut the actual gift ideas yet, just list the words or phrases that come to mind. List as many as you can think of. 
  4. Finally look back over your full list of words and phrases and start to come up with ideas for specific gifts. 
  5. Repeat for each person you need to purchase a gift for.