Sliding Ideas Into Action

Here’s a reminder:

  • if you want something to exist in the world, it’s even better to take action on it vs. just throwing the idea out there.
  • sometimes the actions or next steps don’t have to be huge undertakings – like trying to make something all yourself.
  • utilizing the right platform and community can make all the difference in turning an idea into reality at a faster pace.
  • no matter what your idea is, someone else probably already has it too.

Read more on Idea Generation here.

 

Start The Work And Everything You Need Will Appear

A few years ago, I was offered the honor to speak at an event but I almost missed out. I kept putting off the process of sitting down and figuring out what I wanted to say. I felt like I had a great opening, but didn’t have the full story of what I wanted to get across.

I procrastinated for far too long, then things I never expected started to happen.

The more I thought about it, the more potential content I gathered. The more I talked to people about it, the more they provided insights that took me on amazing new paths.  One day I was walking around outside and there were new signs in our parking lot that completely related to my topic. After a quick mention to a colleague, he sent me something that he saw months earlier in Canada that became critical to the story.

Once I started working, everything I needed started to appear. All I had to do was start.

How To Generate More Ideas

Coming up with more ideas is the same as achieving many other things. In fact, many of the underlying techniques of how to come up with more ideas same the same principles of of other popular self-improvement topics:

  • how to build bigger muscles
  • how to find your perfect mate
  • how to make one million dollars
  • how to lose weight
  • how to get a raise

It all boils down to doing the “thing” more.

In building biceps, it’s doing more barbell curls. In finding your perfect mate, it’s going on more dates. For coming up with more ideas, it’s only about trying to come up with more ideas, more often. Just like your biceps, idea generation is a muscle.

No one that is “great at generating ideas” was born that way, they usually just tried coming up with ideas more often. The more you flex your idea generation muscle, the better you get.

And the fact is, the more ideas you take in, the more you’ll put out.

Every idea you see, hear, feel, taste, do, and touch all have impressions in your mind that can influence your ability to generate new ideas.  That being said, everything that exists was at one time an idea, so a simpler way to say it is, “experience more”.

Someone who has only ever eaten white rice will have a harder time coming up with a new flavor of ice cream than someone who has experienced every fruit in the world.

See, hear, feel, taste, do and touch more and you will be able to generate more.

The Business Around The Business

When I was a kid I collected comic books.  There were some I read and some I collected just because I liked the artwork, but my main goal (along with a whole mess of other ventures in those days) was collecting them with the hope that one day they would be worth a ton of money.

After weekly shopping trips to the comic book store with my friends, I would carefully protect my comics with the special holders and backing boards. I’d also do things in support of my habit like get the updated pricing magazine that came out every few weeks to do a current evaluation of my collection.

That was well over twenty years ago.  Then, a few weeks ago I had the random thought that I would look up some of the prices of the comics I had to see what their current value would be if I went to sell them today. Needless to say, even though I had some pretty decent selections, I wouldn’t be a mega-millionaire if I went to sell them today.

Which got me thinking: where was the real money and value generated from collecting comic books, baseball cards, etc.?  

The real money was generated in supporting the collecting behavior.  If I spent more time finding ways to help my friends with their collections, I probably would have made much more than in actually collecting myself. All of those protective bags and backings, the storage boxes, and even the french fries and sodas my friends and I stopped for on the way home from the comic book store was the real way for someone to make money from our collecting. The four bucks per month, by every kid who collected comics, for the pricing guide was another secondary product (and industry) that sprung up around the collecting.

This is true in many places. Is more money generated from the actual stocks in the stock market or from the countless industries and offerings supporting people who want to buy and sell stocks?

What business could you develop supporting the perceived value of another business?

P.S. After lugging my comic book collection around in boxes between my first two apartments after college (yes, I kept them ‘in storage’ at my parent’s house through high school and college) I did decide to sell them on ebay.  Three quick thoughts:

  1. wow, ebay or the internet wasn’t even ‘a thing’ when I started collecting back in grade school
  2. I sold them in bulk as 1 whole set because I didn’t want to go through the detail of individual listings management and therefore had to knowingly sell them at a steep volume/non-individualized discount, and
  3. the real value in my whole experience with collecting comics came from the fun I had on those weekly shopping trips and the discovery of seeing what’s new at the store. Those memories are priceless and why I will highly recommend my kids start any kind of collecting of something they want.

Business Boot Camps

There are plenty of programs for students  to learn more about career choices and industries in their field (think internships and co-ops).  Why do businesses stop doing that for experienced people?

What if you could build a bootcamp / externship-type program for your business where you bring in talent from other industries to work in your space for a while?  What if you could even do this between the different groups within your company?

Do you think skills you have from working in one industry could be useful in another? There’s an easy way to find out once you find a company with this type of program embedded in the organization.

How else could you benefit from the knowledge someone else has in another field?

Online Learning Team Building Platform

I’ve been thinking about how to strengthen online teams… Many online courses require participants to form teams to complete some of the work. There are two ways to go about this:

  1. Create a team of people you already know
  2. Join a diverse team of strangers supplied by the platform

If you’re with your friends and colleagues, team building aspects may not be an issues. But if you’re on a new diverse team, you might benefit from some additional team building activities.

Instead of nesting team building activities into each separate online platform, why not build a platform that specializes in creating stronger bonds between online teams for the purposes of coursework? Then the teams could utilize this new team building platform for becoming a better team, and the learning platform can focus on being a better learning platform.

What would you do to help online teams get stronger?

 

Instant Meeting Feedback

Have you ever ran a half day, all day or multi-day meeting and wanted to get better live feedback about how it was going? Would you like to receive real time feedback about your performance, without disrupting whatever was happening?  What are some ways you could receive this type of instant feedback, and make it as simple and non-disruptive as possible?

What if…?

What if you handed everyone a red, yellow and green card at the start of the meeting and asked that at any point in time a participant would put one of the cards on the table to indicate their feelings.  What if everyone vote at every break?  What if it’s an app that people can click their feedback and it gets aggregated to a continuous monitor on your screen?

Incredibly simple ideas, but the start of what could be very powerful and even more elegant ideas to immediately improve your process and outcomes.

The main idea is that you should start to ask for more instant feedback.

 

Work Spas

I love going to spas.  No, not the kind that are advertised in the back of local newspapers, but the real kind that are luxurious retreats from the outside world.  Periodically being in a place that is specifically geared towards helping me relax and recharge while being extremely comfortable is as close to perfection as possible: fluffy robes, soft towels, salt rooms, wet and dry saunas, different temperature hot tubs that get hotter and hotter, cold plunge pools, lounge chairs, hot towels for your face, rainfall shower heads…

When you’re immersed in the spa those features may seem like they’re geared for your body, but it’s your mind that is getting a radical change of pace as well.

Imagine if you could use that different mindset for your work. How about integrating some elements of the spa into where and how you get work done?

Introducing the Work Spa.

Much of today’s most important work (if not all) involves creativity. The Work Spa is about being in an environment, periodically, that enhances your creativity while also being conducive to getting work done–if you want.

Could you be more effective immediately after a series of hot and cold plunges in the different pools?  Would you stimulate a latent part of your brain and be able to better solve problems because you’ve never tried to find a solution while you’re sitting around in a robe and towel surrounded by eucalyptus steam?

There are plenty of movies where the two power brokers in some financial transaction go into a steam room, so let’s take that idea to the current times.

A simple start would be putting wi-fi and laptop lockers in existing spas and having a section where the keyboard clicking wouldn’t interfere with the silent portion.  What else would your ideal work spa have?

 

The “Why Am I Here” Score

I looked up the websites of 75 different organizations in a particular industry for a small project. My goal was to look at the sites so I could figure out which of 6 or so different buckets that each of the organizations fell into. This would help me develop a plan to research the right ones more effectively.

Unfortunately, 65 of the 75 websites I went to did absolutely nothing in the first 2 clicks (I left each one after two clicks) to tell me

  1. what the organization offered
  2. identify any nugget of information that could help me categorize them effectively or
  3. help me understand how that organization made money (they were all for-profit ventures)

Bloated, confusing, jargon-filled mission statements and copywriting on the main pages of a company’s site do nothing to help the new visitor understand anything about the company or what to do next.

So, how about developing a way to quickly asses website (or other media) designs in terms of the consumer/customer/visitor and figuring out why they happens to be on the site in the first place? 

One simple way this could be evaluated is by whether or not someone knows what to do once they land on your homepage. There’s a ton more, but the overall message is to come up with some kind of generic benchmark (like CTR is a generic benchmark) that helps designers understand if they’re confusing the visitor.

How else could we measure this?

 

Student Learning Profiles

Increasing the effectiveness of learning is a major opportunity to improve the entire world. There are many great ideasprograms, leaders, and schools working towards making education better for the future but there are many more ideas and opportunities to try and amplify that work.

Here’s a simple one that could improve learning for each and every child.  In the school system I attended for the first 6 grades we stayed in the same classroom all day, for the next 2 grades it was basically a rotation between 3 teachers. Therefore, each kid in the class spent a lot of time with one specific teacher and the teacher got to know each student closely. Even through four years of high school, my teachers had the opportunity to get to know specifics about each of us in the one or two classes we had with them.

Great teachers recognize that each kid in their class may have a different learning style and offer multiple ways of explaining a lesson so that each kid has the opportunity to absorb it in a way that makes most sense for them. Also, over the course of a year that teacher gains very valuable insight into the learning style, ability, and many other factors that contribute to a kids performance.

Sure, there are charts and records that each student has on file with the school and teachers fill out information about each student – but how about a more open and collaborative approach?

What if the child had an online profile, with all of their teachers over the years as contributors to build a profile of the child’s individual learning styles and insights.

This way, when Teacher P finds out that Student J is very visual when it comes to math they will contribute that knowledge to Student J’s learning profile. Then Student J’s parents could understand their child’s learning style, the next year’s teacher will know that from Day 1, and eventually the child could know that themself.

Once presented with information like that it would be easier to link to methods and use styles that related to that student individually, thus accelerating their performance.

We’re already tracking tons of useless information through online profiles and websites, why not track learning information and use that to provide resources to help all those involved in educating a child?

What else would you add/do to this type of system? How could this transfer to work opportunities?