Break Through Your Next Big Idea
By Tony Daniello, AVP, Support Services, CDI
Notice my wording carefully here… this blog isn’t about immediately declaring your next five or ten big ideas as break-through ideas, although they certainly could be.
And I’m not writing about the process of breaking down or evaluating an idea.
In this blog, I want to share what I’ve come to learn about going beyond ordinary innovation strategies and transforming traditional ideation tactics to break through the idea!
Capturing Your Next New Idea
Every now and then we all have our AHA! moments. Times when an idea hatches in our overcrowded brains. Those moments often don’t occur at work. We might be driving, baking cookies, brushing our teeth, or out walking the dog.
You just know it when you have one because it suddenly makes complete sense. Ideas solve problems, delight customers, save time, reduce waste, and cut costs.
When we get a good one, we know we are saving the day and that we’ll receive praise, likes, and kudos from everyone. We feverishly rush to write it down because otherwise we could forget exactly what it was about, or we might not remember all the details and be left with only a fragment.
Applying the Breakthrough Mindset
Okay, so you’ve got your next big new idea (or at least your fragment and a sincere wish that the rest of it will come back to you tomorrow morning in the shower).
Now imagine if you and your colleagues built off that idea and grew it beyond whatever you immediately perceived its original purpose to have been. Instead of rushing to implement plans to execute and deliver on the original idea, imagine breaking through the idea!
As a primary example, a martial artist is trained to break through a board, an attacker, or an opponent. The similar mindset at work here advises us that the object in front of us, whether it is a one-inch wooden board or a new idea to solve a problem, is not the stopping force or limiting factor. In fact, the striking hand extends beyond that initial distance into an area much further behind it.
By focusing on this extended area, we concentrate less on the potential fear that the object will hurt us, and instead we generate more force that will be applied to ensure a powerful strike. If we apply the same methodology here to innovation, we can grow our ideas by leaps and bounds, by focusing on breaking through them into unlimited new territory. Also remember, the physical force of hands and feet are limited by size or mass, but the mental force behind our new ideas is unlimited.
Go Above and Beyond the Business Unit
Let’s say that you have an idea that was explicitly meant for the business unit that you manage. The idea is really good and can help save time and money. Now, if your team can break through this idea and see how you can apply it to other business units or markets, what will happen?
The original idea is going to expand and grow as new applications for other business units or markets are included. Because these business units may not operate the same way, we are required to go beyond our original thinking. In this way, innovation leads to more innovation.
Most important, the original idea for your business unit just got better because now you are thinking at a broader level and incorporating operating exposures to the way your group originally did things—none of you could have seen this coming before.
Break Through Your Next Idea
Here are some ways to break through your next idea:
- Reach Beyond Self-Imposed Limitations: Special thanks to Ivan Baez for this one. We are mainly the ones preventing ourselves from seeing past the initial idea. Sometimes we feel as if we are over-stepping boundaries or not incentivized to accommodate other areas. Baez reminds us that thinking even slightly beyond what is in our grasp can only add to the idea and not deter it, even if it is not accepted by other business units. Don’t let yourself impose early limitations on your new ideas.
- Write It Down and Walk Away: Always write down the idea and then walk away. The main reason for this is that our brains work in mysterious ways. When we exercise, listen to music, or just get in a relaxed state of mind, we are better able to make solid connections. Pressuring yourself to improve an idea can produce stress and block your progress. (To learn more, click here.)
- Visualize Your New Ideas: Some people perform better with pictures than words. Drawing out the idea and focusing on the initial details first will help you to better understand the overall possibilities. After you capture the initial visual properties, expand the picture to include other external factors, such as additional teams, business units, platforms, or market segments. Review your visual concept diagrams every day to see new connections.
- Bounce Your Ideas Off Other People: By getting other perspectives, you can accelerate the development of your new idea. Recently, I had what I thought was a decent idea and mentioned it to another person in the company. This person took the idea and added to it and in the end, it was much better and made more sense to both of us. Don’t be afraid to share your new ideas with people in your circle of trust.
Be Ready for that Next Big Idea
Applying these methods can help you capture more raw ideas, help you improve upon the development of your ideas, and help you expand your creative focus. Until next time, continue practicing your own innovation strategy and keep breaking through those new ideas. I promise you’ll be amazed to discover just how far they can go!