The first quarter of 2014 is over and perhaps your business is not where you want it to be. Knowing we are almost a third of the way into the second quarter, we, as 72othinkers, we would like to suggest taking time out to help replenish your idea funnel, infuse some new energy in your business and help to ensure you that end the year on a high note. This is not the time to worry about how silly or stupid the idea will sound to others. Nor is it the time to be practical. In fact, the crazier the better. Most of our greatest inventions and certainly our best works of art have come from people who have taken a really bizarre idea and made it work.
Three ways to fill your idea funnel:
1. Play with Toys – There seems to be a general consensus that if you’re not hard at work or working hard – then you are not serious about your work. Guess what? Many of the successful executives and entrepreneurs that we have encountered over the years use play as a stratgy to help them generate new ideas, solve problems and come up with spectacular inventions. They have toys on their desks and scattered around conference rooms. One of my personal favorites is a kaleidoscope. As you turn the instrument, new colors and images occur giving a new perspective. With each slight shift of the lens, you can see different shades and images emerge. Using a play session can, at the very least, help you to appreciate the need to lighten up. More often than not, however, it generally helps you and your team to see things differently and opens the creativity door.
2. Peruse the Parking Lot. No, we am not talking about going outside and counting the cars. We am suggesting that you review those wacky suggestions that threatened to derail a meeting and so they are written on the white board or flip chart to address at a later time. These ideas may have been scattered around, bantered around and often times discounted for being ridiculous. Yet, these random, spontaneous ideas that are spouted out in meetings may actually prove to offer a solution to one of your most troubling problems, support a new business opportunity or suggest a new market for your product or service.
3. Create an Idea Board. Vision boards and mind mapping are two great ways to build idea boards. The tools of the trade can be words, quotes, photos, post-it notes, crayons, colored markers/pens/pencils, even children’s stickers. This can be done individually or in a team. Leaving an idea board in a public place and easily accessible spot can really get those creative juices flowing. Pull out your phone and snap a photo of the board as it evolves. This will truly be a work in progress. This approach has helped companies come up with really amazing ways to innovate and change. Be bold, be expansive and get outside the box.
We have shared only three very simple, yet powerful thoughts for how to generate ideas. We are sure that you can come up with many more and would really like to hear from you. Let’s keep filling our idea funnels to ensure that we end 2014 with a bang, not a whimper.