I'm an idea person. Some would say I'm a creative visionary, others might say a foolish dreamer. Maybe you are like me with visions and ideas floating around in your head just waiting to implement. Maybe you're also like me in that you've never had a "bad idea" in your life. In other words, idea people thrive on new ideas and, almost always, believe that each idea is the best thing since slice bread. Why, then, do most of your ideas never come to fruition? Maybe the two best answers to that question are a) They weren't supposed to or b) they weren't given enough attention.
Have you ever been in a brainstorming session run amuck? Idea after idea gets thrown out and the process keeps going and going. Everything from the impractical, the irrelevant to the absurd is posted on the board. Everyone's ideas are valued as equal. The whole goal of this exercise is to help the team break free from conventional thinking to possibly stumble upon one great idea, or at least a general solution to the problem. Free-thinking is a great place to be for awhile, but stay there too long and everyone's brain will be mush. Why? Because ideas are ultimately only useful if they have an application. The group may come up with tons of great ideas that just don't seem to address the problem at hand.
Questions to ask for your idea.
- Has this already been tried before? How? Was it successful and why? Do some research to find out if anyone else has already done this. That will save you time and frustration on the implementation. Idea people always think that they are the first to think of something, when in reality, a hundred people have probably already "run it up the flagpole." Find those people and learn from them. Chances are they are just as excited about the idea.
- Does this idea have application now? The important thing here is to write down your idea and try to find an immediate need for it. There may be a market for your idea, but it may not be apparent at the moment. If there appears to be a need, then do your research to confirm it. If not, file it for later.
- Why doesn't anyone else believe in my idea? This is a hard question to answer. People are probably used to hearing about your latest and greatest idea, only to never see it become a reality. They get excited at first, but soon learn that you also have a hundred other ideas. Maybe your idea is too big for them to grasp, or maybe they've just learned to tune you out because they're tired of your idea ADHD. You may be able to spawn ideas faster than salmon eggs, but you need to learn where to spend your "selling" energy. Not every idea is worth putting in more than a minute of thought. Every once in awhile, however, an idea is. It's there that you spend your social capital and rally others to your cause.
- Did I invest enough time in my last great idea? Don't make the mistake of going from idea to idea, only to see them all fail. Current and effective programs or products shouldn't always have to compete with the new ones for oxygen within the organization. Some "failed" ideas were great, except that they weren't given enough attention or resources for a long enough time. Ideas in an organization are like bricks that are built one upon another to make a stronger and stronger overall structure. New ideas are not always better, they're just more exciting - for awhile.
Keep dreaming. Keep brainstorming. Keep visioning. Just try not to drown in a pool of your unrealized dreams. A good idea is worth putting energy into. Very few ideas are worth pouring a lifetime into. But when they come along, they can change the world.
I would love to hear your thoughts or personal experience why ideas aren't realized?