"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."
--- Eleanor Roosevelt
Where will your next great idea come from? If that question doesn't come up in your mind at least once a week, you are probably too thick in the weeds of your business, but that is what we do. We wade through the weeds and muck, in an attempt to make, and keep, the business profitable. So the time needed to think usually comes on the drive home or right before falling asleep, which for most of us, doesn't take much time.
But that is exactly how many businesses fail. The business leader isn't taking and making the time to ensure that the funnel of business is full and that new ideas for business are taking shape. When we stop generating ideas and stop creating new or better or more profitable ways of doing business, the business becomes stagnant and the competition or the economy does its damage. That is why we must always be coming up with either new or better ways of doing business or different forms of products and services to offer to our customers.
"Everyone is a genius at least once a year. The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together."
--- Georg C. Lichtenberg
Your big idea doesn't have to be the next Post-It Note or personal computer or even the next candy something app. In fact, often the simplest ideas are the ones that bring in the most money to a company. But those ideas don't just suddenly pop into our heads while taking a shower, (although they sometimes do). There has to be a dedicated effort to form new ideas. Blocking out time for thinking and creating takes discipline, but it can be done.
"For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate."
--- Margaret Heffernan
A friend of mine who runs a very profitable commercial landscaping company ($25 million last year), told me that once every two weeks, he and his management staff, along with two or three field and office employees, get together to brainstorm ideas. He set rules that no one can bring cell phones into the meeting, and that the meeting cannot be a bitching session. It has to be strictly a free-thinking creative session.
Because it takes time to turn the mind away from work and turn it on to ideas, the meeting is scheduled for two hours. This takes a lot of productive time away from doing business, but my friend says that some of their best, profitable ideas come from these sessions. Being disciplined with keeping the idea sessions going has served his business well.
"The breaks you take from work pay you back manifold when you return because you come back with a fresher mind and newer thinking. Some of your best ideas come when you're on vacation."
--- Gautam Singhania
Even getting away for long overdue rest and relaxation can also serve as an idea generation holiday. Sitting on a beach, playing golf, or snow skiing can provide opportunities for ideas to flow. The mind never really shuts down, so why not use it to create bigger and better things? Whether you are rewarded with time off or carve out the time, use it to brainstorm ideas. Any ideas, crazy, silly, unusual, weird, outrageous, boring or realistic are good ideas. Don't discount any of them.
My landscaping friend has converted all of his mowing equipment to propane, saving thousands in fuel costs every year. This idea, and many more like them, came out of his idea sessions. Put an idea session on your own calendar and don't let anything interrupt it. Get others to participate. Have an idea lunch, retreat, cruise or whatever. You get the ...(sorry)... idea!
"Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas."
--- Marie Curie