With only so many hours in the day, setting aside time to ideate doesn’t work for me. I have plenty of ideas that I think are amazing. I get a taste of them in those moments between tasks, driving to appointments, or in conversation with a trusted colleague. But they don’t do any good unless I get them out of my head and into reality.
As a small business owner that likes the fast pace and fun of bouncing from project to project, it is challenging to set aside time for a process that formalizes moving my ideas to implementation.
In the book, “Range,” by David Epstein, the author explores how professionals who are best in their industry are less likely to have specialized in that field only. They tend to have had a variety of jobs, perspectives, and roles in their lives. They see things through multiple lenses and combine those perspectives to form new ways to create, implement, and understand.
I love this! If you are one of these people, these ideas will be a breath of fresh air for you. When you do these things, all of your thoughts start to overlap and synthesize. The ideas that form are exciting but simple things that you can’t believe no one has ever thought of before.
- Write It Down. When you are frustrated, curious, wanting more information, or have a question, write it down. I keep a section of the whiteboard in my office for this exact purpose. I don’t often have or take the time to think more about it on the spot but having all of these seemingly unrelated thoughts and questions intermixing on that whiteboard keeps them alive.
- Be a Learner. Read! Listen to podcasts! Just 15 minutes a day is a minimum for me. Diversify your sources. If something is interesting to you, listen to it. My favorites are Revisionist History with Malcolm Gladwell and Building a Storybrand with Donald Miller, plus a host of other true crime and leadership episodes that spark my interest. It’s fantastic when the most straightforward ideas from these sources pop up and connect to an idea that has been percolating.
- Have Interesting Conversations With Smart People. If you don’t already do this, it might feel awkward at first. It can feel like starting a random conversation. Try something like this, “I had this thought the other day. What’s your take on this…” Sometimes, it won’t go anywhere. It can also turn into a fascinating conversation where more layers get added, and you start to gain new insight.
- Give Your Brain a Rest. My best, fully developed ideas happen on the weekends. When I’m not checking things off the list and instead out hiking or just having my Sunday morning coffee, there seems to be more room in my brain for ideas to settle. It also happens on the days following a vacation. There is just something about getting rid of the clutter that frees up space for new ideas!
- Build a Weird Tribe. All of the assessments on the planet say the same things – you are going to be more effective if the people you surround yourself with have a variety of skills, personalities, and communications styles. Of course, that means you have to be open to and respectful of all types. It also means that you have to be available to people that seem “weird” to you. Perhaps they take their time to respond, and that quiet space makes you anxious. Maybe they are pulling in actual data and research where you are happiest with assumptions and guessing. The best teams at moving ideas to implementation come at it from all perspectives and cover all the bases. Regardless of your style, these people will drive you nuts, but if you can create trust with them, they will be the absolute key to moving your idea to implementation!
For fast-paced leaders, ideas excite us! But they do no good unless you can make them happen. In addition to these methods, create ways that work for you to capture, synthesize, develop, and implement your next idea that just might move your business forward in huge ways!
Casey Fuerst is a marketing expert based out of a suburb of Minneapolis, MN. She helps small businesses get higher profiles and better sales with smart, crystal clear marketing. Download a sample 3-month marketing plan on her website (link to www.tictactoemarketing.com).