According to author, Dr Deepak Chopra, we each have between 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day. Whether it’s ‘what should I have for dinner’ or ‘I wonder if there is life beyond ours’; your thoughts vary from the mundane to the meaningful.
Meaningful thoughts are the beginnings of ideas. Typically, when someone invents or creates something, it starts with a meaningful thought. When Martin Luther King Jr had his dream, it started with a thought on racial equality. When Adam Smith vocalised his controversial ideas, it started with a meaningful thought on the division of labour.
These were all great ideas. Ideas which had momentum, purpose, clear outcomes. But not every idea can be a great idea. So how do we sift the wheat from the chaff? Figure out what is a good idea and one which is a great idea? How do we decide where to place our energies when developing ideas?
When working with clients in this area, we often use a process called ‘Design Thinking’.
What is it that needs to be solved? Defining the problem is the difference between a great idea and a good idea. Think of it as an onion, peeling back each layer with the question ‘why’ until you hit the core. Observation is essential here – immerse yourself in the challenge, be the customer or colleague, experience the problem. Only once you are clear on the real challenge, can you frame it and consider it from an idea generation perspective.
Even if the solution seems easy, it’s important to consider many options. From the extreme to the less exciting; bounce possibilities around, look at it from different perspectives, bring others into the conversation. Having the right stimulus here is vital – you want to open your eyes beyond the box. Get out of the office, take a walk, have a shower, relax your mind. You’re not looking for THE answer, you’re looking for all of the options.
By now you should have several ideas to work with. Some will feel stronger than others, but only by testing them and refining them are you able to sift out those which won’t achieve the desired results. This isn’t about building prototypes or processes though, this is about challenging the idea as a group – exploring successes and failures, developing the idea into a concept, nurturing it. You may need to repeat this process a few times, combining ideas and honing them, before you decide on the idea to take forward.
The great idea
The aim here is to have solved the challenge or unearthed a great opportunity which requires more consideration. You need to question yourselves harder, test more intensely, obtain critical feedback. This is when you may prototype, or run pilots. If your agreed idea doesn’t solve the problem identified in stage one, then you need to go back and start the process again.
It’s very rare that one person has a great idea overnight and so it’s important that your people have the right tools and working environment to create and incubate great ideas. If you’d like to know how, contact us here.