Every time my family took cross-country car trips, Mom would pack snacks, a pencil and a Mad Libs® book.
Mad Libs®, as you may recall, are short stories created by filling in blanks with an assortment of names, nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Miles and time would pass by as Mom, Dad, my brother and I took turns offering up random words to create funny stories.
Mad Libs® also have practical applications. Combining pre-existing items to create a new outcome… commonly called a hybrid… is a time-tested, but sometimes overlooked method, for solving problems or creating opportunities.
Past Hybrid Mad Libs®
You likely own several “Hybrid Mad Libs®”. Trevor Bayliss had an idea years ago to combine his wind-up alarm clock with his electric radio. Today, clock radios are commonplace. Someone put a luggage cart and a suitcase together to produce the rollerboards, commonplace at any airport. Or how about the person who had the idea of putting a copier and telephone together, now commonly called your fax machine.
Present Hybrid Mad Libs®
Inventions and solutions don’t always start with a blank sheet of paper and pen. Combining pre-existing methods and items has given birth to several hybrids the past couple years:
Steps to create Hybrid Mad Libs®
Are you or your organization searching for a fresh approach to improve sales, costs and profits? Instead of starting over, use what you’ve already got. Look for combinations of existing products, services, activities and partnerships to create value.
Hybrid Mad Libs® is a simple method to create practical ideas by looking for weird combinations of things that pre-exist. The three steps to create Hybrid Mad Libs® are:
Step One: Instead of nouns, verbs and adjectives, on a sheet of paper label five vertical columns: (1) Suppliers; (2) Product Lines; (3) Services (e.g., activities); (4) Processes; and, (5) Customers.
Step Two: Create a list of items in each column. For example, Kinko’s might list:
Step Three: Scan horizontally looking for new combinations of products, services, activities or partnerships. Most new ideas are hybrids of things that pre-exist. Scanning the example above, it should be no surprise why my local Kinko’s store has a new Hybrid Mad Libs® name: FedEx Kinko’s!
Potential Hybrid Mad Libs®
Hybrid Mad Libs® are the result of left brain logic and right brain creativity:
When I trade in my Ford truck next month, I will seriously consider purchase of a hybrid. How about you? Do you need to purchase or create a hybrid? Fill in the blanks:
If I combined _________ and __________ I’d get _____________ .
Let me know what Hybrid Mad Lib® you create. Send your Hybrid or your comments to me at TomPryor@icms.net.
 What is Lean Six Sigma?, Mike George, Dave Rowlands & Bill Kastle, McGraw Hill, 2004  Hybrid Envy, Alex Taylor, Fortune Magazine, October 3, 2005  Why Not?, Barry Nalebuff & Ian Ayres, Harvard Business School Press, 2003  Weird Ideas That Work, Robert Sutton, Free Press 2002