This cartoon was partly inspired by my friend Paul at Idea Sandbox and his brilliant Idea Killer BINGO card.
All businesses talk about the importance of innovation yet most struggle with it. I don’t think they suffer from a shortage of ideas. I think they suffer from an inability to recognize and grow the ideas once they have them.
It’s far easier to block, water down, or sabotage an idea than it is to help it grow. That’s because more organizations are equipped with cutting tools than with growing tools.
When I joined General Mills years ago, we held ideations constantly. They were fun, they were often elaborate, they were creative. They yielded some fascinating ideas. Yet the most remarkable ideas never went anywhere.
I once discovered a small box of files under my desk. Inside the box were the outputs of an ideation five years earlier. As I flipped through them, I realized that half of the ideas in the box were identical to some of the best ideas we had generated since I joined.
Aside from realizing we weren’t nearly as original as we thought, I learned that filling a box with ideas is easy. What is difficult is nurturing an idea and running with it. Getting it through the organizational stage gates without suffering the death of a thousand cuts.
Rather than hold “yet another ideation”, stage an “idea liberation”. Mine the ideas that are already floating out there. Breath fresh life into them and see if you can take them further. Instead of looking for reasons why they won’t work, look for reasons why they will.
Find a way to think outside the bin.