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Come up with winning ideas Origineurs podcast episode hosted by communication expert, Loretta Milan

Come up with winning ideas

The idea puzzle.

The lightbulb. The aeroplane. The iPhone. What’s the one thing they have in common?

They were all…great ideas.

They all transformed the way we live.

However, there’s something about ideas that’s puzzled us for generations.

How do you know a great idea before it takes off, before people are queuing around the block to buy what you’ve created?

How do know which ideas are worth your time, which ones you should invest in? And, how do you know which to abandon?

Getting the answer wrong can be costly.

Getting it right – however – can be revolutionary, not just for the world, but for your pocket. Let’s see if we can solve that puzzle today.

Successful people come up with ideas regularly.

The most successful people come up with ideas regularly and are not afraid to experiment with their best ones.

Bestselling author, Stephen King, writes more words annually then some will in a lifetime. He publishes a new book almost every year – sometimes more – and has turned out many a hit that’s also made it into film, like The Green Mile and The Shining.

The Spanish artist, Picasso is considered the most prolific artist in history. According to the Guinness Book of Records, during his 75-year career, he produced 13,500 paintings as well as prints, engravings, illustrations, sculptures and ceramics.

Madonna is one of the most successful female recording artists of all time. She’s innovative – and at times controversial – but seeks originality and never stands still. She’s embraced multiple modern-day eras of music and is a queen of reinvention.

Quantity vs quality of ideas.

Surely, it’s the quality of ideas that matters, not so much the quantity?

How about all of Stephen King’s books that haven’t been global hits? How about all of Picasso’s creations that no one knows about? How about all of Madonna’s songs that have not topped the charts?

Quality is important. But it’s quantity that increases the chance that a quality idea will be uncovered. In short, quantity is the precursor to quality.

Think about it, if you have an ocean full of ideas, rather than a pond with just a few, the chances of encountering something remarkable are increased.

There is always the exception. The one hit wonders. The miraculous bestsellers. The surprising fads. But, they generally rely on luck, not strategy.

The problem is, luck is never guaranteed. It’s a gamble. Banking on luck is like playing roulette with your money and time. Whereas when you’re both strategic and consistently create, you have more material to play with. You have more chance of hitting on success.

The ocean of ideas – though – is vast. 

So, it’s important to know where to look to find the pearls. There are five stages to generating great ideas and selecting the best.

Five steps to finding great ideas.

Step 1: Sling your ideas.

The first step is the most fun. It’s to sling your ideas onto a whiteboard, wall or notebook. You can do this on your own but it’s even better done as a group because your ideas will naturally build upon each other.

Challenge yourself to come up with as many as possible without judging them.

Judging stifles creativity. So, whether your ideas feel good, bad, brilliant or delusional, get them all out there. You don’t have to do this all in one go. You could get into the habit of coming up with a few ideas every week.

This is something I love to do. I collect them in my ‘ideas book’ and when I need them, I know where to find them.

Step 2: Sort your ideas.

Go through your ideas asking yourself…

  • Which of them could work?
  • Which align with your strategy?
  • Which may be of interest to your audience?
  • Which do you have the time, money and capabilities to develop?

Step 3: Stretch and strengthen your ideas.

Use your biggest ideas to push all the other ones. Think beyond what’s possible right now to what you could make possible with the right enablers.

  • What would make your ideas stronger?
  • Is research needed?
  • Are trials required?

Think of this stage as your ‘ideas lab’.

Step 4: Share your ideas.

Some people baulk at the idea of sharing their ideas too soon. But if you don’t talk to your audience, get their feedback and get them to experiment with your concepts early, is could be riskier.

This is because you could spend time making or developing something that just doesn’t interest them or work for them and will never be successful.

Do take legal advice on the steps you can take to protect your intellectual property while benefitting from input.

But, do experiment in some way rather than rely on assumptions. Then, use this feedback to refine your ideas.

Step 5: Sign off, shelve or shut down your ideas.

At the final stage, there are three options.

  • Hopefully, having come this far, and fully evaluated your idea, you can sign it off and get it ready to get it out there.

But if it’s not working, you have two further choices:

  • Shelve it for now and review it later in the light of future developments.
  • Or, you could shut it down completely and transfer your creative energies to other ideas.

Which ideas are worth your time?

To answer this, let’s go back to the original question…

How do know which ideas are worth your time, which ones you should invest in? And how do you know which to abandon?

There is no magic answer. No guarantees. But, if your follow the five steps from initial idea to launch ready, you maximise your chances of success, particularly if you involve your audience in the development because, ultimately, you need their interest.

Leaders in innovation are prolific creators. They’re constantly coming up with ideas, experimenting with them and trying them out with their audience. This enables them to create new opportunities every day.

And, if an idea doesn’t work out?

Not all is lost. Mistakes and failures can be the most valuable lessons.

If fear of failure stifles your creativity, you risk never pushing your boundaries, making new discoveries and getting ahead. It just has to be strategic, calculated and managed appropriately.

Use your lessons to make your future the best it can be.

When you make idea generation and continual innovation a habit, you increase your chances of having a hit on your hands and accelerating your success.

Key takeaways

  1. Both quantity and quality are important when it comes to ideas. Having an ocean of ideas increases your chances of finding a pearl.
  2. To find the pearls, go through the five stages of idea generation to fully evaluate their potential.
  3. Involve your audience as early as you can, ensuring the right legal protection when required. You are creating solutions for your audience so you want to maximise their interest and increase your chances of success.

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