I Am Your Idea

Euphoria

As an idea, I was quite happily resting in an unassuming nerve-end in a remote corner of the brain of my original owner. It was quite a good life really, just sitting back taking it easy where I was oblivious to all the busyness of those other ideas around me. But then, my life changed, and in a phenomenally big way!

For some unexplained reason, my owner’s brain decided to think. Why this happened, I have no rhyme or reason as to what initiated this mental activity, but the result for me was an electric and significantly life changing experience. Once the process of thinking commenced, I started to notice an immediate change in my appearance. Yes, I started to transform into a larger and more complex idea. I quickly gained substance, and in a most surprising and totally unexpected way, my social life increased exponentially as I became really popular with other ideas that were totally unknown to me. It seemed like all my new idea acquaintances wanted a piece of my being, so much so that I started to lose my individual identity.

As the concept of human time mysteriously progressed in what seemed like only microseconds, the idea of me started to reside in not just my owner’s brain, but also in that of many people. This biological effect continued to compound and I was swiftly transported via numerous communication methods across the globe into other countries, cultures and out into the solar system and beyond.

I started life as a single idea, but now I am a thought celebrity and one that is core to the survival of many other ideas and foundations of knowledge. Owing to my immense popularity of thought, I am now frequently mobbed by many other small and less advanced ideas, all seeking my autograph where they try and absorb any readily accessible part of me as they themselves quickly grow and develop.

I’m now unstoppable, viral and as long as there is a mind that can reason and think, I will exist. I am thought personified as creativity and innovation. I am your idea.

Ok LinkedIn, I have a cunning idea for you!

Closeup portrait of a group of business people laughing

I am one of those people that always remembers a face, but am shocking when it comes to recalling a name. When travelling around on business, I immediately identify someone I know, and then when it comes to that all important name greeting…yes, a pregnant pause of embarrassment commonly prevails!

I, like many people, have a vast network of LinkedIn contacts that covers a range of colleagues where I live, interstate and internationally. Now this is where you need to pay attention LinkedIn….!!

What if you modified your iPhone LinkedIn App to have a GPS map that alerted you to whether one of your network contacts was near you (say within 50 metres)! If they were, a message would then be sent to you with their name, photo, role and their company. If you wanted to meet them, you could ping them with an SMS. Now wouldn’t that be great for those name forgetters like myself!

Yes, I’m sure that some of you might also be thinking that this App could also be extended to Facebook, but that’s for another type of social interaction and a plethora of other opportunities (and associated problems) springs to mind with this one!

Now, LinkedIn or Facebook, if you are going to explore this one further, don’t forget where this brilliant idea originated!

The Flamboyee

Mondrian dress

If you have ever watched a speedboat cutting through the still water in a large lake, it is a most impressive sight. Besides the monstrous noise catapulting flamboyantly into the surrounding air, in its trail there is a sharp and distinctive series of oscillating waves that permeate from the back of the boat and eventually make their way to the shore. As an observer, you have no option but to take notice and to acknowledge the visual spectacle that is quickly unfolding before your physical senses.

This occurrence got me thinking…..

Corporate innovation needs “The Flamboyant Employee” to act as a catalyst to inspire and to make others in the office think that little bit differently. As a suggestion, let’s call these people the “Flamboyee”.

As the “Flamboyee” wanders through the office, their profile captures the attention of their fellow workers. They may have a flirtatious smile, a wicked glint in their eye, wear a range of unique clothes, or possess some other individual and distinctive mannerisms and attributes. The key requirement is that people take notice of the “Flamboyee”, break their concentration and initiate a spark of innovation in their thinking, or in their subconscious. This “Flamboyee Effect” rippling throughout the office environment can be likened to the waves in the lake generated by the speedboat. Those employees in direct contact with the “Flamboyee” will tend to obtain the greatest innovation benefit.

It is important not to have too many “Flamboyees” meandering the corporate passageways; otherwise there could be a clashing of the innovation waves that may lead to a negative impact and eventual capsizing in creativity. However, a well-planned timetable of “Flamboyee” activity is essential to ensure that a sustained level of innovation buoyancy is maintained throughout the working day, particularly near 5 PM when many a worker’s motivation starts to quickly subside.

The role of the “Flamboyee” should be prized by management, and HR should have a specific position description prescribed with key performance innovation indicators to make sure that the “Flamboyee” is operating effectively and achieving their maximum creative potential.

Just a thought, but one definitely worthwhile exploring further!

Let the Ideas In

Padlock.gif

Many corporate offices these days are starting to have a somewhat cloned appearance of the CIA, MI6, ASIO, and most other intelligence organizations, with all the security gadgets located throughout their buildings. This is evident by the increasing visibility of security cameras, sensor movement measuring devices, electronic swipe cards and other items that may have been derived from a James Bond 007 movie!

These security measures are very successful at keeping unwanted people out, and those valued people in, together with protecting the businesses intellectual property and other strategic assets. This security focus also permeates into the organization’s hierarchy and culture where only a limited number of vetted employees are allowed to represent the business in the external world to ensure consistency of message.

A major consequence of these established corporate fortresses is that many new ideas, creativity and innovations are also blocked from entering the organization. Many companies utilise a limited number of gatekeepers to filter and disseminate information inputs into the organization thereby ensuring a consistent methodology to evaluate potential opportunities in accordance with well established, and approved, corporate guidelines. However, this can result in stifling innovation and in restricting the highly needed creative thought that is essential to the longer-term and ongoing success of the organization.

The solution is for organizations to have a broad network of “idea collection systems” in place to seek out, identify and gather new thoughts that can analysed further to better understand current and future consumer trends and market requirements. The key is to allow many employees in the corporate structure, not just the chosen few, to have the opportunity to source these ideas without the use of the approved corporate filtering and distillation processes, otherwise this will again lead to a narrow view of potential innovation opportunities.

These “idea collection systems” do not need to be extremely ornate, sophisticated or expensive, but can be achieved via allowing people from a broad cross-section of the organization access to a variety of external information stimuli that they would not normally have exposure to via their traditional job roles. Examples of these “idea collection systems” could be; magazine subscriptions (HBR, The New Yorker, Food and Wine, MAD Magazine, Top Gear, etc), attending seminars, webinars, workshops, interest groups, factory tours, plays, book reviews, plus many more! The objective is creative diversity with ideas sourced from outside their current “thought zone”.

The vast array of collected ideas should then be pooled into a continually overflowing “idea bucket” from which those versed in the identification of potentially new ideas and products review on a regular basis. With time, I’m sure that this collective of numerous ideas will lead to many commercially new and innovative products being developed to provide future long-term benefit and financial sustenance to the corporate organization.

The corporate goal should be to have many employee “ears and eyes” constantly seeking new thoughts to add to the “idea collection systems”. But to do this, the corporate organization needs to be bold, to listen, and to “Let the Ideas In”!

 

The Power of a Small Drop

Water Drop

 

When a towel is placed under a tap where the water is flowing quite quickly, most of the water runs off the towel with minimal absorption. However, if the water velocity from the tap is reduced to a slow and steady drip, the towel now becomes very effective with the water collection as each drop has time to fully permeate into the fabric.

Let’s take this thought and consider its application to the implementation of a new idea or innovative, change application in business, or in our social activities.

If the mindset shift associated with the proposed change is too large, those individuals feeling the full force of the change action may not absorb it so it could be lost and have minimal or no impact. The key for success is to slowly drip feed the idea to allow the desired effect to slowly permeate into the organization (or individuals) to which it has been aimed.

However, in some circumstances where efforts to implement change continually encounter strong resistance, sometimes there is the need to use a water canon to blast the change through with maximum force! But this course of action tends to obliterate the “towel” and may not achieve the required result. There are also usually a lot of puddles to clean up afterwards which may require a larger number of fresh towels!

So for your next “change introduction” may I suggest you adopt the steady and slow drip and you will obtain a nice wet and saturated towel!

 

Digging for Ideas

Camped

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.

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

Persistence:
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!

The Mathematical Idea

Numbers

If you were an accountant, just imagine if the unthinkable happened?  What if you were at the crucial stage in developing a strategic profit and loss statement, or an annual budget and you ran out of numbers!

Yes, instead of numbers being an unlimited thought concept, what if they were an actual physical asset that was purchased, had a market value, and were manufactured in a finite quantity? How would the accountant cope? If they ran out of “4”s, could they continue the financial analysis that they were working on by replacing the “4” with a “3”, after-all they are close? Somehow, I suspect not!

So why is it that some corporate organizations tend to have a greater proportion of innovative ideas compared to other companies? After all, aren’t ideas, like numbers unlimited and freely generated?

One probable answer is the culture of the organization and the environment that has been established to encourage and promote innovation of thought. Many progressive companies are well aware of this requirement and have developed a range of thought creation initiates to drive and maintain the innovation process focused on targeted applications. If we go back to the accountant, it is all very well have an unlimited supply of numbers, but the key is how these numbers are applied to a specific problem thereby creating a solution. The same can be said for ideas, it is great to have a plethora of them, but the real opportunity is obtained when they initiate a creative solution that leads to additional sales revenue via a new market or product.

So next time you use your calculator to solve a mathematical problem, try to think of the numbers on the keys from a slightly different perspective. Why not view those numbers as the inputs for a range of ideas which when combined via a systematic approach lead to the generation of a creative and new solution. By the way, in this calculator there would be no “Error” function, for when generating ideas, there are no mistakes, just opportunities for improvement!

The Diary of Thoughts and Questions

Journal

When you start a role with a new organization, you typically observe and learn from your immediate colleagues so you can quickly gain an appreciation of how things need to be done. During this process, you are flooded with a broad range of different ideas and processes, including the business culture.

Your mind is continually questioning and exploring potentially better ways to perform your new role. However, most new employees do not raise these new ideas owing to their short time period in the business.

After a few months, the new employee has settled in to their role and is happily following the old and well used and established processes that they were taught by their manager or work colleagues.

But what happened to all the ideas that they observed in the early stages of their employment? These valuable challenging “thoughts and questions” are key to driving change in the organization so it continues to develop and improve!

One solution is to capture all these ideas in the “Diary of Thoughts and Questions”.

This diary would be completed by the new employee at the end of each work day for the first few weeks of their employment. At the end of this time, the diary contents would then be discussed with their manager, and their boss, to explore how the potential improvements could be implemented. For the process to work effectively, all readers of the diary would need to have an open mind and be prepared to consider all “thoughts and questions” whether they be positive or negative.

Change your Label

Shoebox with Business Cards

When you meet someone new in the work environment there is usually an exchange of business cards.

On the presentation of this card, your eyes immediately glance at the person’s name and their job title where you typically place a “label” on their rank in the organization, their skill set and their personality traits.

The person portrayed on the business card also tends to accept this “label” and modifies their personal behavior to be consistent with their job title.

Why not change the “label” and therefore allow the person to be more innovative and creative in their behavior and in the way that they perform their job role?

Let’s explore some examples:

Accountant:  “Numerical Creativity Genius”
Personal Assistant:  “Controller of the Individual”
HR:  “Body Optimization Expert”
Engineer:  “Process Enhancement Consolidator”
Marketer:  “Idea Instigator”
Others….!

Why not get some new business cards printed with your “alternative job title” and see the effect on your new business acquaintances, and how it influences your persona? It could be rather interesting…..?