Five Things Every Executive Needs to Know about Ideation

All successful people are big dreamers - creative in every aspect of managing their career. However, when in a position of power or management do they use that creativity in changing the trajectory of the company they are employed by? Why take such minimal risks when tasked with "changing the paradigm?" Ideation is a great process that can unlock new views on design, process, product, price, convention, curation, competition and strategy. No – Ideation is not all about working in a creative office space it is a method of success that should be encouraged at all levels of an organization.

“Great ideas need landing gears as well as wings”
- C. D. Jackson

1. It is the Quality not the Quantity

Sure, the goal of ideation is a substantial idea – one with weight, promise and profit. The goal of Ideation is not Quantity but Quality. You should be seeking "gamechangers," the bold and the visionary

2. Innovation Does Not Start With Ideas

A contrarian thought! Without knowing outside data – customer needs (unmet needs), marketing trends, competitive landscapes, vendor intelligence – how do you expect to create a captivating idea? Innovation begins in the weeds. Ideas follow.

3. Ideate Frequently (If Not Daily)

Collect ideas from your employees daily and if not daily with as much frequency that your corporate culture allows. And by employees we mean ALL employees.

4. Invite the Radicals

Greg Fraley in his monumental Ideation article - "Ideation Success Formula" – suggests inviting the "troublemakers" or the radicals in the company. Don’t have an Ideation session with people who are just like you. There should be some tense moments as the ideas and innovations are being bandied about.

5. Make the Ideas Digital and Actionable

Take copious notes, drawing, sketches, poems, riddles, photos, well – anything that was a part of the Ideation session and make it digital (Basecamp for example). More importantly make the session actionable, meaning everyone involved with the Ideation has a laundry list of responsibilities and actions to complete. Don’t let the ideas and the session sit up on the proverbial shelf collecting dust.

Final Thoughts

Remember you company started off with a lofty idea. Feed the need for the next new, exciting idea. Sure it could take the mundane effect of a new HR procedure or the brilliance of a lofty of a game-changing product that propels a whole new generation of revenue. Yet, Ideation is a process. A controlled process that frees the inhibitions and cultural demands of a company into fruitful and actionable strategies. The goal here is not more and more ideas, but yet profitable ones. And have fun. Lots of fun exploring the new possibilities.

  • Strategy