Everyone has ideas. What separates ideation from impact is action, community-building, and creating value.
Ideas represent possibilities for alternate futures. Ideation stirs hope and forms pathways to change. But, the idea is just one part of transformation and innovation. It takes a village as they say. And the village must not only believe in the idea, but also believe in mission, the purpose, and the value they’ll experience as a result.
In an era of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, creativity can be a competitive advantage. In fact, I see creativity and critical thinking becoming an imperative over time. Creativity, after all, is a key pillar in innovation. And, it’s the constant investment in innovation that stokes luck and growth. At the core of everything is ideation and the ideas that serve as the currency of innovation at every level. You play a role in ideation. You are a vital source of possibility. Your thoughts, suggestions, concepts, beliefs can contribute to a new, improved or alternative course of action.
Ask yourself, what effects will you have on the future…small or game changing?
Productive ideation and worthy ideas aren’t just for the imaginative, artistic or gifted. You just have to care about whatever it is you do so that you can appreciate the opportunities that separate what’s done today and how and why and what you can do to influence or change the status quo.
Your advantage is that not everyone gives a damn. Caring, empathy, optimism, that’s your fire right there. That’s your edge.
In my work, I study creativity and innovation. I also study, and have lived through, what extinguishes and thwarts it.
I care. I also care about you.
I’ve experienced more often than not, the smothering and debilitating (and lasting) effects of people who don’t care and how they strip away hope, creativity and passion from those who do. Forget them. Their legacy will be, by and large, one of mediocrity and unhappiness. That is not your destiny.
Creativity and imagination matters. It always has. But now, it’s going to be differentiator between you and everyone else.
Imagination, originality, artistry at any level, unlocks not only under or unexplored parts of who you are, but also who you could be if given the chance.
I just spent the last few years reigniting my creative side and it’s been life changing. Creativity is now part of my daily ritualand I can proudly share it is now at the core of who I am I can’t believe I spent all those years neglecting that side of me.
Let’s fire up your creativity and get ideas swirling around inside of your mind, your heart and let’s make them contagious to those around you!
Introducing the Ideation Cycle
I partnered with long-time collaborators JESS3 to create a fun, visual and encouraging guide to inspire new thinking (and hopefully new behaviors!)
Whether they’re small “i” or big “I,” ideas, they start with you. They also need a pathway and support system to get them in play. You are both a source of ideas and a supporter of ideas of those around you.
Having the idea is just one step. The ideation cycle comes to life with tenacity, expertise, passion, and resilience to navigate little “i” and big “I” ideas from imagination to reality.
It’s taking that “back of a napkin” or “what if” or “why can’t we” moment, rallying people together, and inspiring everyone to bring ideas to life.
Otherwise, ideas are just concepts. Having them is wonderful, but they don’t do anyone any good if they dissipate. Everything changes though when you take actionable steps, when accountability is managed and something tangible is carried through a critical milestone of “test and learn.”
Who can this impact and why?
What value will it offer?
What’s the result or effect?
Who can help us nurture this idea and activate it?
What did we learn?
What can we do the same or differently moving forward?
Idea:The spark of creativity! It’s the concept or thought that will make something better.
Communication: Rally support! Inspire! Align stakeholders who can nurture the idea. Internal marketing and promotion of the idea creates a support system.
Evaluation: Consider the impact on stakeholders and beneficiaries.
Planning/Strategy: Define the path forward. Define success. Establish milestones. Assign ownership, roles and responsibilities.
Research: Conduct market and stakeholder/beneficiary research to measure the viability and potential of the idea in a variety of scenarios. Demonstrate business value and ROI. Validate and grow the idea!
Test and Learn: Let the idea see daylight in controlled scenarios, in stages to gather internal and external validation.
Iteration: Get feedback, listen, learn, ideate and continue to optimize the idea.
Dissemination: Remember the humanity of your idea. Go as big as you can with it, but always make sure that idea is personalized for every stakeholder and beneficiary.
Execution: Formalize and productize the infrastructure to market and support the idea en masse.
Measure: Demonstrate effect, communicate insights, and show next steps.
All it takes is practice.
We can’t change the world, let alone anything inside and around us, if we can’t give ourselves the time, space or permission to consider what could be better or different.
That’s where you come in.
You ARE creative.
You HAVE ideas.
You SUPPORT ideas around you.
You SYMBOLIZE hope and new possibilities
An important note to managers and executives:
This entire conversation would be moot if the culture of your organization is risk averse or worse, forcing fear upon people.
People must be inspired to continually inspire others. They must be empowered and incentivized to have and chase ideas. More so, there must be support and processes in place to test, learn, iterate and market ideas. Then and only then will your organization shift from a management culture to that of agility and innovation. Ideas are only as good as the support system for them.
Risk-averse cultures are mediocre by design. They scale the past. And, management breeds mediocrity. On the other hand, empowerment, creativity and motivation sparks ideation. True leadership inspires innovation. Innovation elevates change, creates new value and unlocks new and rewarding opportunities.
How do people in your organization feel about their role in ideation today?
What is your culture and what is it amplifying?
What could it focus on and develop instead to accelerate innovation?
The time for creativity and validating it is now.
Brian Solis | Author, Keynote Speaker, Futurist
Brian Solis is world-renowned digital analyst, anthropologist and futurist. He is also a sought-after keynote speaker and an 8x best-selling author. In his new book, Lifescale: How to live a more creative, productive and happy life, Brian tackles the struggles of living in a world rife with constant digital distractions. His previous books, X: The Experience When Business Meets Design and What’s the Future of Business explore the future of customer and user experience design and modernizing customer engagement in the four moments of truth.
Invite him to speak at your next event or bring him in to your organization to inspire colleagues, executives and boards of directors.