What good is an idea if you can’t actually ‘do’ it?
I’ve always been an ‘idea girl’ – defined as someone who could easily come up with ideas and figure out how to make them happen. Was that always the case? Hell no. I started out 90% imagination and 10% action. But I learned that one of the real skills around ideation is in the concrete visualizing of how the idea could live in the real world.
So when we train people on creative thinking and/or ideation, the expectation is that they will not only be able to come up with juicy ‘problem solving’ ideas, but be able to articulate how to bring those ideas to life in the real world. Once the idea is grounded in “doability”, then the development and execution become far easier. (It’s also what differentiates creativity from mere imagination.) But this always proves to be the toughest part of the equation. So here’s a quick tutorial to help move you from blue sky to solid ground.
Write the ‘Big Idea’ in a title sentence.
It should grab the attention and set the scene for what this idea or solution is all about. Think in terms of a headline or copy line. For example, the solution might be about a whole new way employees are internally recognized for their creative efforts. If you called it ‘Internal Creativity Recognition Program’ we’d get the idea, but would we get excited about the prospect? Would something like “The Head Exploding Creativity Award System” be more evocative and exciting?
Explain how this idea / solution works in a single, clear and encompassing sentence.
For example, ‘The Head Exploding Creativity Award System’ reads:
‘An anonymously voted on star rating program that tracks head exploding creative contributions of all employees via a weekly survey – resulting in a monthly award event and prizing system.’
We get enough details to understand what it is (An anonymously voted on star rating program), how it will live in the real world (tracks the head exploding creative contribution of all employees via a weekly survey) and what the end result is (resulting in an monthly award event complete with prizing system.)
Add tactics or examples
Add tactics or examples of how the idea might live or steps to bring it to life. For example:
- Create criteria and simple survey that allows for voting
- Ask staff to contribute names of people who expressed real creativity and what they did
- Upload names and invite staff to vote
- Top 3 move to monthly finale. Finalists asked to contribute inspirational / motivational quote to their profile
- Final voting
- Winner is awarded Head Exploding Points, recognition and small reward (Starbucks card?)
- Points accumulate towards redeemable prizes; Day off? Shorter workday? Pick your project? TBD
Be concrete and doable.
You may not have all the details worked out at this stage but you should be able to envision some of the steps. If you can’t imagine in your wildest dreams how this will come to life, it may not be doable. So be sure to check yourself. Remember there’s a difference between ‘hard’ and ‘impossible’. And make sure anyone reading this idea / solution could easily contribute to take it, start planning or working from it. If it’s vague or too high level, this won’t be possible.
Invite others to come and ‘yes…and’ your idea
Invite others to come and ‘yes…and’ your idea – contributing new tactics, twists or perspectives to further develop it. Who knows where it might go with even more judgment-free input!
This simple process helps solidify your creative thinking and establish whether you have an idea that can be concretely envisioned. And now you’ve got a place to start next level development or even action steps to get it going!