Authored by Dr. Darin Eich, Ph.D., President of BrainReactions LLC

We are about to innovate. Is there anything missing or something we hadn’t thought of? What direction should we move in? How do we gain quick insight and validation to decide which questions we want to generate ideas on when innovating for new products or services, marketing, or organizational improvement? If you’ve ever thought about these questions before launching a new innovation effort, a short and quick survey of your customers or stakeholders may be what is needed.

One activity to use before formulating your brainstorm questions is to do a quick survey to get both “write in” ideas as well as selected answers. The answers help you validate the direction you are moving in and the write in ideas may shed light on any blindspots and provide something you hadn’t thought of. Gathering a dozen responses to a short survey of no more than five questions that can be done in a couple of minutes can help you zero in on your direction for innovation before the brainstorm and on the concepts to invest development time in later.

SurveyMonkey is an effective and free online tool to help you conduct quick, short surveys to gather insights and validate the direction you choose for idea generation and innovation. It allows for your customers to co-create with you in a more engaging and interactive format. In our webinar series we delve deeper into activities like this to help you innovate in a direction that is co-created and validated by your customers. We share more activities like this the new seminar series package.

Survey Screenshot
To provide a real example, we do online innovation workshops. We are seeking to create new webinars that match our expertise and our client’s needs. The most recent webinar series ( we did was created based on feedback and insights from clients on which topics they wanted us to cover and how to cover them. We are now looking for new insights to determine what to create next so we created a short survey. See for yourself and take a few minutes to do this short survey and see an example of a web tool for innovation you can use for free:

The key is to keep it simple. You are looking for a direction to move in and new ideas. A four-question survey can do this. People can fill it out in a couple of minutes. Before generating ideas try to ask people in your network to clarify the challenge that they want solved through the survey. In addition to emailing a group you can also collect short survey insights through Twitter, Facebook, your blog, and other social media avenues that would allow people to simply click on the link to give you feedback on the specific innovation challenge you are working on. A short SurveyMonkey survey can be used before the idea generating stage to identify and clarify the challenges to solve and after you generate ideas on that direction to help focus in on which solutions to invest in developing further.