The Big Idea

So many times when I’m leading teams in ideation sessions, I am expected to lead them to The Big Idea.  It seems that everyone wants that one, big, breakthrough idea that is an instant success. But that expectation sets the endeavor up for failure.  The process of innovation doesn’t work like that.

I truly enjoy facilitating brainstorming sessions and getting more ideas than you would think possible.  Quantity, not quality, of ideas is certainly a major tenet of creative thinking.

An interesting quote I found in the Wall Street Journal speaks to this very issue:

“According to academic research, a company, on average, needs 3,000 ideas to get 300 of them formalized, 125 of them into small experimentation, 10 of them officially budgeted, 1.7 launched- and one that makes money.”

So the odds are long.

My experience of nearly 20 years now, though, illustrates that at some point we have to say we have enough ideas.  We don’t need more.  We need to recognize the ones we already have.  You probably find The Big Idea”, but if you treat the innovation process as a process, and not as a ‘idea dump-reject or accept’ project, then you will see that the big idea could exist in multiple forms in those smaller ideas.

The innovation should be treated as a breathing, live system where you create the ideas, massage them, put them away, and re-visit them on a regular schedule.  In between those times, your brain incubates. You get new connections in thinking. You learn new things.  You change your mood.  All of these actions enhance your ideation ability so that you can then yield greater insights to strengthen those ideas.

Prepared by Pat Harmon

Posted on October 18, 2013 and filed under Business.