It’s one thing to have a great idea, it’s another to do something about it.
Bringing those two activities together is simply know as “Innovation”.
Innovation is the route to prosperity and regardless of which industry you are in, being good at it is the most critical bell-weather of your future growth.
Okay, so this is all pretty obvious. But where do the ideas come from and how do you turn them into a reality? Simple.
Creativity: where it comes from…
The answers out “there”. For the work in EuroGeographics, ESDIN, dbyhundred and my projects with other companies there’s a range of tactics to finding those illusive nuggets. All of them start with really identifying the problem area and asking the right questions in the first place. Getting past pre-conceptions is critical but also makes these sessions a lot of fun. You can’t delve straight into creative problem solving. You have first to warm up. If working on your own this may be a meditative relaxation approach; if with a larger, perhaps international, group there are a huge range of approaches to move people into a creative state and begin to introduce the methods you’ll use for the business end of idea creation. This is also a great opportunity for the facilitator to guage the group on language capability, style, likes and dislikes. So the warm up is essential in tailoring your approach to get the most from the collective wisdom of your team.
Once they’re with you you move into a staged process of surfacing issues, converging on the real question, structuring discussions and gearing toward an agreed set of actions that address your problem statement. Doing this and developing ownership does not mean the fun ends with the warm-up! And personally I enjoy the use of gambling games, reversals and other mental excursions to tap into whats really happening in this interaction.
Action: how to make a success of a great idea…
Great ideas don’t put themselves into action. And the people that do this critical part of the job (ie. delivering) are not always the ones that came up with the idea. In my experience a potent technique is Agile project management. Taking the view that not all the beneficial outcomes of a project can be anticipated at the outset means the traditional project management approaches on their own will limit your success. In an Agile “Scrum” project the daily stand-up meetings, the adherence to specific roles and the structure of a product backlog focussing on resource availability, impediments and the destruction of barriers on the way to meeting a common objective makes each Sprint empowering for the team and beneficial for all.
The results of these approaches were recognised by the European Commission whose appointed reviewers on ESDIN stated the “management structure” was “responsible for the success” of this “excellent, well executed” project, the results of which “…play an important part in the development of the pan-European Spatial Data Infrastructure.”
I’ve been privilaged to work through the whole of this process in a number of projects now; from idea generation through to implementation. As the challenges get more complex, skills in these areas become increasingly important and the more innovative we have to become in our efforts to innovate!