Have You Had an Idea Today?

Ideas! Do they just pop out of the blue or can you deliberately enhance your ability to have them?

Would you be surprised to learn that many people never consciously consider their “thought process” and howA� to deliberately create ideas? On the other hand most of us have experienced and easily relate to problem solving and brain storming techniques. Almost always, thought generation occurs in a formal way to address problems that require immediate solutions. It’s also almost always done “officially” (arranged by the organization and sanctioned by senior leadership) and in groups or teams.

Solving problems is absolutely necessary. In fact most companies and organizations probably spend the majority of their time and resources in whatA� I call “reaction thinking” or in other words, responding to calamity in their environment. I’m all for solving day to day – or probably in your world, “minute to minute” problems. Surly most of them are crucial for your organization’s immediate survival. Otherwise you wouldn’t be spending most of your time trying to solve them? Right? At least it appears that way as we struggle with each disaster that comes across our desk.

Often the difference between success and failure is directly related to our ability to shift from reactionary problem solving to forward looking and exponential ideas that lead to innovation.A� What process, method or plan do you use to consciously create ideas that result in innovation? Don’t use any now?, then read on – 🙂

Innovation doesn’t just happen. It’s deliberate, meticulous and calculated. Successful organizations instill in their team members a desire for constant idea generation. Not only do they generate ideas, but they have a culture where new ideas are acted upon. A right culture is harder to describe than a wrong culture. Your culture is wrong if you hear; “Been there , tried that – it didn’t work!” or “we have a policy that doesn’t allow that!” or even more insidious, “we’ll have to have that approved by THE steering committee.” – that last one is the kiss of death for an innovative oriented culture.

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Here is one example to demonstrate the power of ideas. Remember 3M and Post-it notes? A company totally focused on making the strongest glues in the world comes up with an idea to use a glue that failed every one of their tests and the result? – Post-it notes were created! The concept is spectacular, but the real story is in their culture and their research or “idea” investments.

So lets get down to brass tacks. You need to personally contribute to your organization no matter what goes on in it’s current culture. Change always begins with ourselves. If you don’t have a regular idea system or use one already, then you need to start now! Here are some helpful hints to get you on the innovation/idea express train:

Schedule regular “idea”A� events in your appointment calendar for yourself.A� They could be daily – 10 minutes is all it takes or weekly for say 30 minutes.

Don’t let other distractions interfere with your idea time.

Dedicate a journal, file or paper pad for your idea’s list – keep in on or near your desk

Keep a paper pad and pen next to you bed – for those eureka moments. Your unconscious mind is your greatest innovation tool. Waking up and writing down an idea immediately saves those thoughts. (most of us forget our brilliant moments if we wait until morning)

Most of us think in terms of solutions to problems or challenges, start your thinking process list with your top 5 challenges you have today.

Consider everything, especially problems you’ve already dealt with as an opportunity.

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Give your thought process form –

Write down your opportunity

Write down below it, the why, the what, the how, when etc.

Write down solutions, no matter how bizarre you think they are.

Keep your idea records

Always review your past ideas for a few minutes at the start of your idea session.

Never exclude a challenge or idea because you’ve thought about it before. Remember, Edison thought of 3000 ways of making a light bulb that failed before he found a way that worked.

Here’s an example to help you gain skill in deliberate ideas.

The What: I want my chickens to get across the road –

currently 9 out of 10 get run over before they get to the other side

fast cars and heavy traffic contribute to the problem

the chickens have short legs and run slow.

Drivers don’t see them

Why do chickens have to get to the other side of the road?:

More feed across the road

Chickens have eaten all the food on the current side they’re on – now starving

I like the eggs they produce and want more

Ideas:

Dress chickens in orange traffic vests

Buy running shoes for chickens

Hire traffic flaggers

Install traffic lights

Install chicken crossing signs

Roast all current chickens and buy eggs from supper market

OK we’re having a bit of fun here with chickens, but it demonstrates how you can implement a regular personal thinking strategy that will lead to innovative ideas for you. Give it a try today. Come back and tell us how your idea strategy works for you!

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