Article: Hatching your next great idea: 5 ways to set the stage


IBM’s Think Marketing blog found my site, and interviewed me on some of my thoughts around innovation and culture. Give it a read!


Hatching your next great idea: 5 ways to set the stage
by Jennifer Goforth Gregory, IBM Think Marketing Blog

Sometimes, you wake up and it feels like it became spring overnight. But when you stop to think about it, the change of seasons happened gradually over the course of a few weeks, and you missed the subtle signs. The daffodils started blooming last month. You started leaving the house without a coat. And, last week, you noticed a few trees sporting light green leaves.

New ideas often happen the same way. It may seem as if the great new innovative idea came in a lightbulb moment, with a flash of creativity. But odds are, it happened much more like spring, with bits and pieces of the idea forming over time, all leading up to an aha moment.

Jim Carroll, a futurist and trends innovation expert, says the key to increasing the odds of coming up with the next big thing is to create an environment conducive to percolating ideas. He gives the following five tips for setting the stage for your next great idea to hatch:

1. Avoid innovation killers

Carroll often jokes during presentations that some people’s first thought when they wake up in the morning is, “What great idea am I going to kill today?” Code words that can help you spot people who are resistant to change and are going to shoot down any new idea include: “It’s a dumb idea,” “We’ve always done it this way,” “It won’t work,” “The boss won’t go for it,” and “It’s just too risky.” Instead of spending time around people who are not open to new ideas, surround yourself with creative people who support innovation.

2. Keep an optimistic attitude

The only way you will both come up with a new idea and turn it into reality is to believe you can do it. Carroll likes to say the best time to pursue an idea is when other people laugh it. By keeping a positive attitude instead of giving into negativity, you will be much more likely to see the brilliance and possibilities when the idea begins to form. “If you’ve got the idea, you believe you can do it, then it’s your belief and your optimism that are going to carry you through,” Carroll says.

3. Think big, start small, scale fast

Once an idea starts to hatch, it’s hard to know where to start. But Carroll says thinking big, but starting small, and then scaling fast, is often the key to turning a fuzzy idea into something actionable. Start by thinking where your company will be in two years, five years, and 10 years to keep the perspective of big and transformational changes. Then focus on a small project that will help prove the idea is solid and work out the kinks. The trick is, once you see success to scale fast to keep the momentum going.

4. Hire people who are different than you

One of Carroll’s most recent blog posts was actually titled “Hire People You Don’t Like.” He wrote this post because he finds there is a tremendous amount of sameness in organizations, due to the fact that people hire others who are just like themselves. This results in a bunch of clones who think exactly the same way, which really limits the diversity of ideas you will generate. He instead recommends finding the “wackiest” people you can find to help you get to the next big idea.

5. Perfect your trends radar

Great ideas don’t just magically come to you, but start when you read or hear something that sparks a different line of thinking. Carroll says the secret is to discover trends before they become trends by listening to the rebels in offbeat sources for information. By making sure you’ve got a good radar that’s attuned to the future, you’re always assessing what comes next.

It’s easy to think you don’t have any good ideas, because you are waiting for the fully formed idea to strike. And it’s easy to miss the rumblings of the start of something really creative, because you are too busy waiting for the grand finale.

Article by:  Jennifer Goforth Gregory uses her 20 years of professional writing experience to create content that solves readers’ problems and builds trust in her clients’ brands. She specializes in business, finance, technology, big data/analytics, telecommunications, healthcare technology, and hospitality technology. Jennifer is a paid contributor to THINK Marketing.


THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE FAST features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he
covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.