Imagineering for Business Innovation


business Innovation, performance improvement, quality improvement

An old idea we all need now!

We’re going to supercharge our business innovation process using an old word: “imagineering”.  Why?  Because it describes, so well, something great innovators rely on and  fall back on when every solution seems too expensive.  Here’s a definition of imagineering from Alcoa, the originators of the term:

“Imagineering is letting our imagination soar, and then engineering it down to earth.”

…”letting our imagination soar”… In imagineering, we imagine a future use for our product or service.  We visualize it in the hands of someone who uses it, and the impact it has on their daily life.  We give that vision time to ripen, dwelling on why the the product or service is useful, and how it’s put to use.  We let ourselves become expansive… what would happen if everyone used it?  Just by asking for it?  What would they do differently?  Would they be happier?  Smarter?  Healthier or richer?  By how much?  It’s said that some people dream in black and white, while others dream in color… we’d be hoping for a genuinely Technicolor moment of inspirational innovation.

Now… write down that dream.  Or diagram it.  Maybe, this being the 21st century, we’ll record a stream of consciousness story on our cellphones.  However we do it, the goal is to be able to tell a story in 3 minutes and produce one picture or diagram that sums it all up.

… “and then engineering it down to earth”…  I’ve  been taught that the engineering part of the innovation process is the skill of finding solutions, at least one of which is both feasible and affordable.  Now we force ourselves to be focused, thinking about a chain of activities and events.  We reach into our experience for clues to describe development, packaging and delivery processes.  We begin to divide the problem (the other side of opportunity’s coin) into stepwise pieces and squarely face the obstacles to completing each step.  We may need to consult domain experts, each of whom must convinced to suspend disbelief and skepticism.  When the first solution doesn’t work, it’s time to painfully revisit designs and decisions, often in the shadow of tightening schedules and budgets.  Hard work and well worth it.  (You can read more about about the central importance of persistencefacing business facts, and minimizing risk right here at GoodBusiness.)

Imagineering isn’t technology projection.  It isn’t trend analysis by optimists.  It isn’t incremental product extension or process improvement.  They’re all much-needed , but they’re not imagineering.  Who does imagineering best today?  Walt Disney does it best.

Go ahead.  When you’re really challenged, try imagineering as your business innovation strategy.  I think you’ll be amazed by its power.




  1. Have the soaring wings of imagination, human beings can fly farther than ever. Regardless of art、science or life filed, if there is no inspiration of imagination, so many outstanding achievements and changes won’t come out. I think imagineering can not only unique to Walt Disney, we can also draw lessons from imagineering significance to lead ourselves make more innovation in our business or daily life.

  2. JAMES OJUOK says:

    Imagineering seems such a powerful yet very simple tool we can use to find solutions from deep within. I will put it into practice. Visualization is makes the subconscious mind to try resolving a problem by turning the current reality into a new , more exciting vision!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *