Fast Company has an interview with Thomas Daveport, who “has helped midwife some of the biggest trends to have shaped business over the past 25 years–among them, reengineering and knowledge management. Now he’s asking: Where do ideas come from? And how do they get traction? Here’s his eight-point plan for winning with ideas.” Excerpts:
Great ideas have three key elements. All big ideas share at least one of three business objectives: improved efficiency, greater effectiveness, or innovations in products or processes. In a way, it’s an exhaustive set of possibilities. You do things right, you do the right thing, or you do something new. Reengineering could have done all three–the mark of a truly big idea–but people used it solely for gaining efficiencies, which limited its power and value.
There are no truly new ideas out there. Every big idea owes a considerable debt to related ideas that came before it. Reengineering’s key components already existed–they had just never been pulled together into one package. Of course, idea practitioners should avoid pointing out that the next big thing amounts to a reshuffling of other ideas. One of the tensions that idea sellers have to manage very carefully is, on the one hand, the need to get people’s attention. The innovation has to be new and exciting. But they also have to talk about the idea in a responsible way so people understand how difficult it really is.
The story sells the idea. The most important way in which ideas and experiences get communicated from sellers to buyers is through narratives. Stories give proof that your idea is going to work. Confidence-building evidence isn’t statistical, it’s narrative in form.