Posted in Strategy

The Power of Little Ideas

Every day it happens. We spend time doing our daily routines, taking care of business, living our lives. At some point we look at what we’re doing and say, “There’s got to be a better way to do (insert task here).” Occasionally an idea pops into our head. Now most of the time these aren’t the big, world shifting, change the playing field type of idea.

No usually they are little ones…opportunities for improvement (OFI) that we make note of in our heads and keep moving forward with our tasks. Unfortunately most of the time those ideas are lost faster than a quarter among couch cushions. If they’re little ideas, what good are they anyway? Why spend the time to do anything with them when there’s real work to be done.

There are a plethora of analogies about how little things add up to big things but I’m going to challenge you to not try to scale your ideas up for once. We often get caught in the cycle of “if I get enough good ideas I can come up with one great one” and then we’re back to square one and couch cushions.

Rather I challenge you to start capturing and applying the little ideas whenever and wherever you can for the purpose of exercise your “idea muscles”.

Every time you come up with a little idea ask three questions about it: what would it take to make it happen, what would happen if it didn’t work, and what would happen if it did. What you are doing is developing your evaluation skills for new ideas and determining the short and long term effects of the idea through visualization.

All these skills make a huge difference when it comes to more complex and larger scale brainstorming and ideation work. Think about these little ideas as equivalent to reps in the gym when you’re working out.

Here’s how to get started doing this right now. Keep a pad of paper and a pen nearby as you work and as soon as you get a little idea on how to improve something, creating something new, or something that might make a difference, write it down.

Capture it for later. DO NOT try to evaluate it right then. You’re collecting eggs in a hen house, not cooking each one standing among the chickens.

Later on take some time to ask those three questions of each idea and capture the answers. Again this is an exercise in strengthening your creative and associative thinking processes not an effort to come up with the next big idea.

Over time you’ll find you get better and better not only at seeing the connections for the little ideas, but evaluating them on the fly, and ultimately having one little idea spawn another one. Coming up with ideas can be difficult for some, but it is something that everyone can learn how to do with practice and patience. Who knows, the next little idea you have could be a hard boiled egg or a country omelette.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Power of Little Ideas

Every day it happens. We spend time doing our daily routines, taking care of business, living our lives. At some point we look at what we’re doing and say, “There’s got to be a better way to do (insert task here).” Occasionally an idea pops into our head. Now most of the time these aren’t the big, world shifting, change the playing field type of idea. No usually they are little ones…opportunities for improvement (OFI) that we make note of in our heads and keep moving forward with our tasks. Unfortunately most of the time those ideas are lost faster than a quarter among couch cushions. If they’re little ideas, what good are they anyway? Why spend the time to do anything with them when there’s real work to be done.

There are a plethora of analogies about how little things add up to big things but I’m going to challenge you to not try to scale your ideas up for once. We often get caught in the cycle of “if I get enough good ideas I can come up with one great one” and then we’re back to square one and couch cushions. Rather I challenge you to start capturing and applying the little ideas whenever and wherever you can for the purpose of exercise your “idea muscles”.

Every time you come up with a little idea ask three questions about it: what would it take to make it happen, what would happen if it didn’t work, and what would happen if it did. What you are doing is developing your evaluation skills for new ideas and determining the short and long term effects of the idea through visualization. All these skills make a huge difference when it comes to more complex and larger scale brainstorming and ideation work. Think about these little ideas as equivalent to reps in the gym when you’re working out.

Here’s how to get started doing this right now. Keep a pad of paper and a pen nearby as you work and as soon as you get a little idea on how to improve something, creating something new, or something that might make a difference, write it down. Capture it for later. DO NOT try to evaluate it right then. You’re collecting eggs in a hen house, not cooking each one standing among the chickens. Later on take some time to ask those three questions of each idea and capture the answers. Again this is an exercise in strengthening your creative and associative thinking processes not an effort to come up with the next big idea.

Over time you’ll find you get better and better not only at seeing the connections for the little ideas, but evaluating them on the fly, and ultimately having one little idea spawn another one. Coming up with ideas can be difficult for some, but it is something that everyone can learn how to do with practice and patience. Who knows, the next little idea you have could be a hard boiled egg or a country omelette.

Posted in Uncategorized

Managing Ideas with Stage Gate Processes

In the business space so many organizations struggle with how to take new ideas from their teams and turn them into actionable plans to benefit the organizations and their customers. Vendors are happy to claim to have the next great solution to the process of idea management, but I suggest these tools are not necessary if you take a simple series of steps to implement a stage gate process to handle receiving new ideas as well as evaluating them prior to developing an implementation plan.
Capture
Ideas happen anywhere.  The best ones often happen at the least expected moments…and unfortunately are often lost just as quickly.  If you’re looking to gather those diamonds of wisdom and insight, the first stage gate in your process needs to be a way to capture those ideas.  
This is a point where determining a good idea from a bad idea is irrelevant.  Capture and move on.  The question arises though, “don’t I need some sort of ideation solution for this to be efficient?”  Nope.  If you’ve defined your stage gates properly, all that tool will do is restrict rather than encourage new ideas.  
Review
This is when the stage gates come into their own.  Each idea needs to be evaluated on it’s own merits, in comparison to other ideas, and to the greater strategic goals driving the organization.  Some SGP (stage gate processes) count on voting, scoring, and gamification.  All these methods have their value, but personally I have never seen one rise head and shoulders above the others.
Spending time with a good business process consultant or with your team as a whole can help you define the criteria ideas need to be evaluated upon in your organization.  Whatever the process you define, test, test, and then test again.  Nothing can kill an idea creation process faster than the people contributing to it losing faith.
Feedback
This is the part most SGP fail to take into consideration.  Once a person has submitted an idea, so often it disappears into the “black box” of ideas and they never hear anything back on their submission.  What may be an extended evaluation process can come across as apathy towards new ideas without feedback on status and evaluation.  Defining how you keep your idea creators as part of the idea process can make or break the life span of your solution.
There are a number of additional factors needing consideration in an idea processing solution, but take one thing as a rule right now:  new ideas are the lifeblood of any successful organization.  Whether innovative or evolutionary, without new ideas organizations will stagnate and fail.  Find ways to make your organization a fertile place for new ideas.
Posted in Uncategorized

How To Manage All Your Ideas

This is a guest post by Bojan Dordevic from @AlphaEfficiency magazine. Enjoy!
As an avid Idea Pump reader, I am pretty certain that you are awesome at creating and collecting ideas. When I’ve started actively blogging 5 years ago, I was diligent at collecting them. At any given moment, I would have an awesome thing pop up to my mind, and I’d write it down somewhere, on a piece of paper, or in a new text file. At first, I didn’t have “one place” for all my ideas, and they would end up on napkins, or in numerous notebooks and God knows where.


Than I wished that I could be more organized at it, and I’ve started exploring the software that could help me to get to a place where I will have all ideas in one place. As I’ve been collecting them, the list started growing on daily basis. Once you start having a lot of great ideas, you get on a roll. And it made me wonder…

Can you have too many ideas?


When you get such a huge number of ideas, it becomes quite difficult to tackle all of them. When there is too much choice, we get stuck in choice paralysis. This phenomena is famous amongst marketers, and it describes the problem, that people simply won’t buy the products, when they are faced with too many choices.


The less choices we put in front of the consumer, the higher the chances that he will buy.


So yes, there is such a thing as “too many ideas”! Let’s see how marketers described this phenomena:


…the very act of making a choice from an excessive number of options might result in ‘choice overload’, in turn lessening the motivation to choose and in some cases resulting in failure to choose at all.


Having too many ideas concentrated in one place feels like an email overload. As you see, having too many options available at once can make us procrastinate. All the diligent creatives encounter this issue sooner or later. There are too many ideas, and the choice on what to work on can become a reason to procrastinate.


How To Solve The Idea Clutter?


All our ideas need to have their natural place in our mind, and our system. As our minds are designed for creating ideas, and not actually storing them, we are faced with this dual nature of idea. It’s birth is in the mind, but it needs to have its physical counterpart in order to survive the death by forgetting.


If you use simple note taking software, and use a tag, or a single list, you will be faced with the chaos of long lists. These long lists are already plaguing our email inboxes and task managers, which lead us to this paralysis of choice, contributing to the “Real Productivity Problem That No Task Manager Will Solve”.


To counter long lists, I suggest you break your ideas into organic, flexible hierarchies. When you deal with smaller chunks that you can isolate and focus on, you won’t be cluttered with unnecessary ideas. If you limit the branches up to 10 items, you will avoid the potential to procrastinate, and you will have easier time to start working.


Mike Vardy talks about this in his “Productivityst Workbook” in section about “Idea Management”. He calls it a “Creation Idea Buckets”. Pretty thorough guide on how to cultivate and grow your ideas, and I highly recommend it.


Why are ideas so critical?


Nurturing your ideas leads to significant change in your life. Whether you are a writer or an entrepreneur, having clarity of what your desires are, and how they connect with each other, will give you a clear life guide, that you create completely by yourself.


My ideas have led me far in life, and enabled me to have a complete accomplishment of my dreams. Having strong ideas, not forgetting them, and making tough decisions on the ones that I need to abandon was a part of this process. Stick to your ideas, and turn them into a reality.

Bio
Productivity blogger at @Centask and senior editor of @AlphaEfficiency Magazine. Loves to write about all things productive and share great ideas.
Bojan Dordevic (g+ url)