People who generate ideas are often the most valuable but overlooked people in the room. Why? Since they don’t have the Idea Generator title, they are invisible to the company. Many companies need to formally identify someone by their title and rank and only recognize them for the the efforts that accompany their title. Now, there are some companies getting this right but most are stuck in a formal hierarchy and miss great idea generating potential.
Good idea generation is integral to the livelihood of any business, especially in the warp speed cycles we’re in today. Those who stagnate will get left behind. Those that are able to use good ideas to pivot in creative, exciting, and very effective ways will continue to lead the way.
I have the knack for generating good ideas. But don’t think that I’m writing about an overlooked invaluable talent that only a few possess and I happen to be one of them. That’s not the case. Anyone can become an idea generator with practice.
I happened to do things when I was younger that I only realized later were actually habits of good idea generation tricks. Like how I used to make jokes by blurting out the exact opposite of what I thought people would expect to hear. Comedy hacks are an excellent way to generate ideas—especially on-the-fly.
Someone would talk about how manly the marlboro man looked and I would come back with how he really, kind of, sort of looked like a lesbian. After a quick double take they saw it too. The opposite here was viewing the Marlboro man as a female—not a typical association in my book.
I began to make a habit of seeing the opposite in many situations probably to a fault. But this carried over into my career and many of my best ideas came from seeing the opposite. Like when I moved the lead generation forms on a client’s web site from the top of the page to the bottom—completely against my better judgement at the time—leads increased 100% over night. With a little tweaking to better contextualize the form in its new position leads rested on a 175% increase overall.
Hack your ideas
In addition to comedy hacks there are other idea generating tricks that work too. But it does take practice.
Some people don’t want or have the ability to generate new ideas. They were born without the talent or never practiced doing it. They already have a title with the company and are valuable in other ways. But good business leaders recognize that ideas can come from anywhere and anyone.
It is important to empower everyone in your organization to consider generating ideas. Even if they don’t do it or aren’t required, knowing they will be heard and are encouraged to do so will inevitably lead to good ideas. It’s like planting a seed. If they’re aware of it their subconscious will work on it.
Here are a few more ways to generate ideas.
- Discuss your topic with someone completely unrelated to it. This will help in indirect ways.
- Put the topic at the front of your mind and write your stream of consciousness. Don’t worry about what you’re writing just focus on thinking about the topic and try to write steadily for 3-5 minutes.
- Take a shower. Some of the best ideas are generated in suds.
- Read some fiction. This is also good for personal character development. I’ll write about this in due time.
- Talk about it with a family member. You would be surprised what a value a family member can provide.
- Have a word association session with a partner or group. Have them say topic related words where you respond with the first word that comes to you. A fast steady pace can lead to great ideas.
If you have any idea generation tricks or hacks let me know in the comments below.
Do they get a title too?
At the moment it seems that many companies are wrestling with the idea of titles and formalized job descriptions. Technology is changing the game and leveling the playing field in many arenas—disrupting the status quo. But for those who still find this model useful do they need to have an Idea Generator?
You could argue that those who do generate ideas whether naturally or with practice need the ubiquitous seat at the table. That there should be an Idea Generator title. As with most things, the more they do it the better they’ll get. Right?
They would work more across different industries, markets and business levels. One Idea Generator could help the service desk contemplate better ways to automate trivial tasks in the morning, give a manager a different perspective on procedures before lunch, and connect the social media manager to a crazy good idea for using the service desk’s new automated procedure data to better support customers on Facebook or Twitter.
Find the opportunity
All this is well and good but the ongoing success of your business needs an environment where good idea generation can happen. If your company is structured in a way where anyone regardless of title and rank can contribute ideas that relate not only to their position but the entire company at large—a formal Idea Generator may not be required. But if you’re structured in a more formal way make sure their is some kind of Idea Generator seat at the table.