Once you have a vision of tomorrow’s world, the next step is to build a plan to create that future. In doing so, Ideas form a very important part. Ideas are like Lego blocks – they can be assembled in many different ways. At the same time, Ideas are not everything. We get Ideas all the time. The problem is that we all get too fascinated with Ideas. In fact, it should be just the other way around. All Ideas are in general good. Its what you make of these Ideas that separates winners from losers, leaders from laggards.
I tend to view Ideas as commodities, to be shared with everyone. Only if you share will you get new inputs, fresh insights from others who may have a different perspective. This is how Ideas get refined. But too many of us tend to keep our Ideas to ourselves, thinking they are the Ultimate Things. Only if you discuss your Ideas with others, only if you present your Ideas to people different from yourself, will you get viewpoints which can add depth to your thinking and provide varying ways of getting to that future. It is important also to expose yourself to various situations which can stimulate thinking – it could be reading different books, meeting people you’ve never met before, visiting trade shows and conferences, and just reflecting in a different environment on what you’ve been thinking.
As you sample through different Ideas, what plays an important role in prioritising Ideas, along with your vision for the future, is your Gut. Many times, it is very hard to explain why you feel in a certain way about something. It’s a topic on which little is known, but a recent article in the Harvard Business Review by Alden Hayashi sheds some light:
Over the years, management studies have found that executives routinely rely on their intuitions to solve complex problems when logical methods simply won’t do. In fact, the consensus is that the higher up on the corporate ladder people climb, the more they’ll need well-honed business instincts. In other words, intuition is one of the X factors separating the men from the boys.
Our emotions and feelings might not only be important in our intuitive ability to make good decisions but may actually be essentialTruly inspired decisions seem to require an ability to see similar patterns across disparate fields. A CEO who possesses that ability can craft a perfect strategy by detecting patterns that others either overlook or mistake for random noise.
When you think about Ideas, do not think in the short-term. Keep a time horizon of a few years in mind. You are not trying to get into a 100-metre race, you are running a marathon. (This is what many of the dotcom entrepreneurs forgot as money was spent freely, businesses had no differentiators and the only goal was to cash out in a few months.) In fact, the lesser the money that you have available, the harder you will think about being different from the others, and the more innovative you will actually be.
Ideas need to get converted into two tangibles: Target Markets/Customers and Products/Services.