Digging for Ideas


In the 1850s here in rural Victoria (Australia) it was a common sight to see many men and women of different nationalities lining the rivers panning for gold. This form of mining was quite slow and tedious, but for the minimal cost of a metal pan, you could dream of landing that allusive large gold nugget and then live that long awaited life of luxury!

Putting aside the emotion of the Victorian Gold rush, let’s focus on the simple process used for the panning for gold:

Environmental Experience:
Not all rivers contain gold. With the right knowledge, experience and an understanding of the surrounding environment, some river locations were deemed to have a greater potential for gold deposits than other less favourable riverbank positions.

Filtering Iterations:
The panning process involved a large number of filtering iterations in which the larger sediments were initially removed, then the medium sized ones, until the miner was eventually left with a fine particle distribution in the bottom of the pan. A small percentage of these iterations yielded some gold, however many resulted in worthless sand deposits that were ultimately discarded.

As time prevailed, the miner’s panning technique improved and the filtering process became streamlined and more efficient.

The miner’s tirelessly repeated the process over and over again slowly accumulating small gold dust particles that with time eventually grew into a sizable and valuable sum of riches.

These gold pan learning’s from the 1850s are still valid today in the 2010s, particularly in the generation of innovative and creative ideas in the corporate office. Rather than unearthing that large gold nugget, here the business objective is to uncover that financially attractive new product or service.

Environmental Experience: In order to have the best chance of success, the organisation should utilise the skills, resources and knowledge contained in a broad cross-section of the business, don’t just rely on a select few employees as you will limit your options for discovery.

Filtering Iterations: The process of brainstorming new ideas will take a number of idea filtering iterations, many of which will be discarded along the way until that “golden thought nugget” is obtained.

Practice: The process of generating new ideas takes practice and repetition, but with time, it will become streamlined and very effective.

Persistence: Don’t worry if you are not successful the first time, keep going and you will eventually discover that prized gem of an idea!

So, may I suggest that you consider your corporate organisation as the river within which many yet undiscovered golden ideas lay buried just below the surface waiting to be unearthed. Your goal is to efficiently mine these ideas and bring them forth utilising the skills and talents that currently exist within your business. Happy digging!

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  1. if. only. all managers thought like this. Liking how you come at these posts with positive expectations. more is more, etc. Corporate world often seems to limit potential from top-down, when really they should be asking everyone to rise to the top. Steven Cramer for President! (oh, that’s right, you’re international 😉 )

    • Not sure that President Obama would like that idea too much, but it’s ok as here in Australia it would be Prime Minister, although doesn’t quite have the same tone to it, nor the same oomph, but the thought gesture is really appreciated!


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