There are three things that astound me about most organizations: The cro-magnon way performance reviews are done; the pitiful way brainstorm sessions are run and; the voo doo way decisions are made. What follows is an elaboration of the third -- 12 common phenomena that contribute to funky decision making.
What sparks innovation? People. What sparks people? Inspired ideas that meet a need -- whether expressed or unexpressed -- ideas with enough mojo to rally sustained support. Is there anything a person can do -- beyond caffeine, corporate pep talks, or astrology readings -- to quicken the appearance of breakthrough ideas? Yes, there is. And what follows are 14 catalysts -- simple guidelines, principles, and approaches that will help you on your way.
Let's assume for a moment that you and your company value BIG IDEAS -- the kind of ideas that have the potential to change the game, differentiate you from the competition. That's the good news. The not-so-good-news is that the appearance of these BIG IDEAS are not only random, but too often subject to implosion, sabotage, neglect, rabbit holes, premature evaluation, pissing contests, blame, turf wars, and countless other forms of interpersonal and organizational weirdness.
If you work in a big organization, small business, freelance, or eat cheese, there's a good chance you've participated in at least a few brainstorming sessions in your life. You've noodled, conjured, envisioned, ideated, piggybacked, and endured overly enthusiastic facilitators doing their facilitator thing. You may have even gotten some results. Hallelujah! But even the best run brainstorming sessions are based on a questionable assumption -- that the origination of powerful, new ideas depend on the facilitated interaction between people. You know, the "two heads are better than one" syndrome.
In the past few years I have noticed a curious trend in the media -- one I can no longer ignore -- and that is the appearance of seriously derisive articles about brainstorming by self-declared pundits and freelance writers.
If you want your brainstorming sessions to bear fruit, be mindful of the time before anyone pitches even a single idea.
Because it's the few days before a brainstorm session begins -- the "incubation time" -- that's often the difference between brilliance and boredom.
Unfortunately, most companies don't get this.
If you want to create a sustainable culture of innovation, you will need to understand that there are always four forces at work -- four currents that are always interacting with each other:
1. Top Down
2. Bottom Up
3. Outside In
4. Inside Out
Most companies begin on a shoe-string -- under-funded, under the gun, and under the radar. The company I co-founded in 1986, Idea Champions, was no exception.
Clearly, we'd have to do something different if we were going to distinguish ourselves from the 600 other companies vying for the same customers.
Innovation is in these days. The word is on the lips of every CEO, CFO, CIO, and anyone else with a three-letter acronym after their name. As a result, many organizations are launching all kinds of "innovation initiatives" -- hoping to stir the creative soup and differentiate themselves from their competition. This is commendable. But it is also, all too often, a disappointing experience. Innovation initiatives sound good, but usually don't live up to their expectations. The reasons are many.
How many times have you participated in a brainstorming session, only to be underwhelmed by the utter lack of follow up?
Unfortunately, in most businesses, this is often the norm.
Is there anything a person can do – beyond caffeine, corporate pep talks, or astrology readings – to quicken the appearance of breakthrough ideas?
Yes, there is. And what follows are 14 catalysts ‐ simple guidelines, principles, and approaches that will help you on your way.