Google like an innovator

Desk research (and therefore Google) is invaluable to any innovator. Both before and after generating ideas you’ll want to properly search the internet. Luckily there are some tricks to get better results.

Google before generating ideas

Before you dive into your innovation adventure, do some research on your subject. True innovators know it is important to prepare the process well. Of course it is best to observe the current situation with your own eyes, but it never hurts to also do a little desk research.

Search more information about your subject. Are you trying to solve a problem? Then don’t just focus on the problem itself. Also look for solutions that are already out there. Perhaps someone else has found a perfectly useful way to tackle your issue.

Great innovators know that you don’t always have to come up with the brilliant solutions yourself. It is much easier to use a good idea that is already out there. Innovations are not always entirely new. Innovations are just new in their particular context. The best solutions tend to originate in different fields. Make use of this insight. ‘Steal’ good ideas whenever you can. There is no shame in implementing something that has already proven to work well. Utilising techniques that have proven their worth in similar situations will save you lots of time.

Even if you don’t find a solution that fits your situation, it is valuable to know what is already out there. Everything can be inspiration.

Google after generating ideas

Using Google to explore your subject is not only valuable BEFORE generating ideas. AFTER generating ideas the power of the internet can be equally handy.

Once you’ve generated a bunch of ideas, pick the most promising one and do some research. Check if something similar has already been done before.

No? Great. Your idea is really original.

Yes? Even better. Analyse the information you can find and learn from what worked …and what didn’t work. If some elements of the idea didn’t work in practise, it simply means you can learn from that. Figure out what went wrong and find a way around it.

Some tips for better search results

Everyone knows Google and almost everyone knows how to use it. Or at least, that’s what we think…

There are some handy tricks that most people don’t know about. Knowing them will give you an advantage. It will allow you to Google like an innovator.

Exclude unwanted results
Use a dash (-) before a word you want to exclude from your search results. For instance, if you want a recipe for cookies, but are allergic to peanuts, you’d type: cookie recipe -peanuts
Using the dash is a great way to filter your results and end up with only relevant information.

Use quotation marks
Use quotation marks (“…”) to search for exact combinations of words. Instead of searching for all the words separately, you’ll search for a particular combination (a sentence, quote or title for instance).

Search within a particular website
You can search within a particular website by adding site:[site you wish to search]. For instance, if you would like to search something within you could add to your Google query.

Find related websites
If you find a website that is particularly useful to your purposes, it can be interesting to find websites that are similar to this one. Use the command related:[website address] to find similar websites. For instance, if you like and you’d like to find similar sites about innovation, just type in Google and it will show you sites that are very much like it.

Search in multiple languages
While searching for interesting information, don’t limit yourself to just one language. Interesting solutions might have been implemented in other countries. Just use Google Translate to translate your main keyword(s) in another language, for instance: Japanese. Now Google for the foreign keyword. Google will give you the option to translate the foreign websites you’ll find. The translation won’t be perfect, but you’ll get an idea of what’s out there.

Are you currently facing a challenge that begs for a solution? Or are you about to implement a new idea? Use the tricks above to cleverly search the web, and you’ll be much more likely to succeed.


Did you like this article? Then you’ll probably enjoy these posts:

  • Ask, Observe & Experience. If you are trying to come up with a new product or service, you should keep your target audience in mind. Who is going to use this once it’s there?


  • The Pre-Mortem. In the pre-mortem the weaknesses of an idea are playfully pointed out in advance, so the team can sharpen the plan and prevent failure.


  • How Pilots can help Surgeons. Turning to peers will only get you so far. For truly innovative solutions, you need to look at other industries.


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Showing 2 comments
  • Freek Zilvold

    Thanks for the tips! I use google often as a calculator. This is done like this: =(12+3)/5
    Also I use the strings AND, OR & NOR to include or exclude certain keywords and to make my search more specific.

    • René de Ruijter

      Hi Freek, thanks for these valuable additions! Those words are certainly useful to make your search more precise.

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