Originally posted by Life Founder and Best Selling Author Chris Brady.
God bless, Scott Johnson
Ideas are funny things, and everyone seems to have some sort of idea about ideas.
For instance, one famous quote (usually attributed to Ralph Waldo
Emerson, but which is actually a misquote of an earlier statement by
him) goes like this:
"Build a better mousetrap and people will beat a path to your door."
But a more accurate quote, which I'm sure all of you who've had good ideas can agree with, goes like this:
"Don't worry about people stealing your
ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down
people's throats." --Howard Aiken
Take wheels on suitcases, for instance. Now there's an idea so good,
as soon as you see it you can't imagine how anyone ever got along
without it. But would you believe that we put a man on the moon a full
two years before we put wheels on suitcases? Probably because we didn't
have an American President making speeches and compelling a nation to
pull together and fulfill the grand vision of figuring out a way to
"make our baggage more mobile within a decade! Ask not what your country
can do for you . . . ."
But one man, Bernard Sadow, had the idea for wheeled luggage, and
(would you believe it?) he actually had trouble selling his idea! You
can read about him here.
In studying this topic and giving some talks about it recently (watch for my soon-to-be-released CD from Life Leadership's Launching a Leadership Revolution
series, entitled "Jared and the Journey of an Idea"), I have decided to
add to the already enormous body of thought on the subject. It might
not be a good idea to do so, but hey, good ideas are hard to launch. So a
not-so-good idea? I figure I may as well give it a try. So here goes:
An idea goes through many stages on its journey to fruition:
1. Realization - you see the problem to be fixed, clearly, and perhaps for the first time
2. Mechanization - the method by which you "think it up." It may be a
brainstorming session, a conversation with someone, or an accidental
occurrence (the invention of Post-It notes comes to mind)
3. Assimilation - the combining of previous ideas into a new one
4. Inspiration - the catalystic spark or insight that puts it
together for the first time, and the desire to change the status quo
that pushes the process along
5.Germination - most ideas are not hatched fully formed, instead,
they need to grow and blossom under more thought and consideration (and
6. Elation - the passion that arises when pursuing a real improvement or breakthrough
7. Confirmation - when you first begin to realize you've got it, and evidence suggests that it really will work.
8. Dissemination - the act of forcing your good idea down other people's throats!
Of course, there are many additional "ation" words we could throw at this, but, um, that wouldn't be a good idea.
What's helpful in this is to realize there's a process by which most
good ideas come to life, and by considering these steps, we can put
ourselves in a position to be more creative and better at problem
solving. Let's look at the 8 steps again with an eye to how to apply
1. Make sure you have invested the thought time to clearly identify
and classify the problem, truly understanding it as thoroughly as
possible. Be sure to work toward the root cause and avoid being misled
by the symptoms.
2. Take steps to actively generate possible solutions. This may
involve gathering with others, making sketches, having a brainstorming
session, benchmarking the competition, or just playing around with
3. Realize that most new ideas are just combinations of previous
ones, and ask questions such as, "What could we combine that has never
been combined before?" and "What do we already have available or have
already done that could be synthesized into something new here?"
4. Provide motivation to yourself and your team by visualizing and
vision-casting success and a new, desired reality that will be brought
about by the solving of this problem or the creation of a breakthrough
5. Provide healthy nurturing and incubation for your ideas, allowing
them to be considered openly without having to survive the negative
attacks of "It'll never work" and "Not my idea." Keep egos and reality
tests away from your new ideas when they are young and give them time to
morph into something real.
6. Enjoy the process and refuse to become frustrated, which often
shuts down creative channels. Instead, foster the enthusiasm of a
treasure hunter nearing the red X on a map.
7. Carefully test your new ideas to verify their validity, and have
an open process for analyzing how effective they might actually be in
the real world.
8. Have a process for sharing your idea outward into your
organization (or the world) that allows it to first be received by
those who stand the most to gain by it, thereby gaining momentum and
strength before it attracts critics and detractors.
But the most important thing to know is this: the future can be whatever you want it to be, you merely have to think it up!
At least that's the idea.