Ideas drive our businesses. We all know that it’s important for our products to fill them with innovation so the users love to use them and we differentiate us from our competitors. But we as knowledge workers also have some small ideas. How often did it happen to me, that I was thinking hard about a solution for a problem at work, went home and had the answer somewhere between leaving my desk and entering the office the next morning.
So let’s face it:
You can’t plan for really good ideas
Where ideas happen
I’ve just been on vacation for a few weeks. Before that I had so much work stuff in my head that I couldn’t focus on new blog posts… But just by sitting at the pool for a few hours opened my mind and I had lot’s of ideas for new posts or talks. I think everybody has experienced this kind of innovation boost. I’ve spoken to a lot of people and this are my TOP 3 places for innovation:
Under the shower
I don’t know what it is? But all people I was talking to agreed with this one.
In the gym
I use to listen to technical podcasts or watching presentation while running on the treadmill. My mind fades sometimes away from what people are saying and create it’s own innovation path.
No matter if I just sit at the pool, the ocean, the river, drinking wine at a nice spot or just lay a little bit longer in the bed: I come up with new ideas that I want to try out when returning to work.
Those are not magic places where a fairy appears and whispers you the innovational idea into your ear. I’m normally starting thinking about a problem I have and float with my ideas.
But: Did you recognize something here? None of these place is really where I get my work done. It’s most of time when I’m away from work.
Innovation doesn’t happen between 9 & 5
So here is what you might do if you want your employees to come up with new awesome ideas:
– send them on vacation
– give them the freedom to work whenever they want
– maybe encourage them to do some work out
BUT: THERE IS ONE BIG PROBLEM WITH THIS APPROACH: How do you capture the idea?
It happens so often to me… I have a great idea in the gym but when I return home I’ve already forgotten it. I used to carry a notebook around with me but now I capture my ideas quickly with Evernote. I have it on my phone (for the gym and vacation) and on my laptop to look through my ideas later. But I guess any online synching note program will do the job. I don’t know how to solve the shower situation…
Make your ideas social
It’s just my idea… Is it good?
What looks to you like a brilliant idea might look very stupid for others. At Atlassian we use the blog functionality of Confluence to share our ideas with the whole company. We have a very collaborative culture, so people write lot’s of comments to your post. In about 24 hours I can get so much feedback for my idea (especially if I was totally wrong).
The path to good ideas
- Find your innovation places (It’s not your desk)
- Start thinking about a problem or possible solution
- Write it down
- Spread your idea and get feedback