The following is a blog post by Hiren G. Scroll down the article to read the author’s bio.
Innovation, creativity and new ideas are essential to a good digital marketing team. Many companies strive to develop a culture where great ideas come out as a result of company process, rather than conventional ‘star performers’. This decentralizes the idea generation, and makes sure more perspectives are taken into consideration.
It might be useful to look at old-school innovative cultures within companies, and see how we can take this to the modern business era of digital marketing.
As a social media company, your organizational culture needs to prompt people to generate and test original ideas constantly. Consider running yourself through this creativity audit, every now and then:
Does your company have the following:
- Brainstorming sessions occur regularly.
- Training stresses the development of creativity.
- People garner praise when they innovate.
- You make use of other people’s good ideas, no matter where you see them.
- Projects with problems look to other departments that may have solved similar problems.
- A death squad looks for obsolete or outdated ideas to kill.
- Innovation goals are clear and well understood.
- People are unafraid to take risks or to try but fail.
- The boss’s ideas are as good but not necessarily better than anyone else’s.
- Budgets are a discipline, but not a killer. If an idea is good, your people know the company will find the money somehow.
How to generate an innovative idea
Bill Gates once said, “640k ought to be enough (memory) for anybody.” Britain’s Astronomer Royal, Sir Richard Wooley, said in 1956, “Space travel is utter bilge.” By way of explaining a decision not to sign the Beatles, Don Rowe, director of Decca Records, said to band manager Brian Epstein, “We don’t like your boys’ sound. Groups of guitarists are on the way out.” Each of these statements reflected the sound body of conventional wisdom at the time.
Clearly finding an unconventional, unusual way of looking at things has merit – especially in a field as dynamic as digital marketing. Try taking two unrelated ideas or inventions and combining them for a third new purpose. For example, combining the coin punch and the wine press resulted in the printing press. Here are some techniques to force yourself to make such combinations.
- Make a random list of things – Then, take your major product or service. Find a way to force your product into a combination with each thing on the random list.
- Think of ways to collaborate – Ponder the possibilities with each company you encounter.
- Think of the most ridiculous possible combination – Make it your starting point in a thought experiment.
- Examine how customers use your product – What do they combine it with? Could you make a better combination and create a new product or service?
The power of the unanticipated
Clarence Birdseye spent a bit of time trading furs in Canada in 1916, and saw that people froze food in the snow to preserve it. He returned to the U.S. with the idea for quickfrozen food that grocers could store in freezers, the Birdseye line. The inventor of roll-on deodorant got the idea from the ballpoint pen. The inventor of Velcro got the idea while removing burrs from his dog’s pelt. Put the power of the unanticipated to use in your business by collecting ideas from seemingly unrelated scenes and events. Talk with people in other fields.
Read publications you don’t usually read, take a different route to work or go somewhere you’ve never gone before and keep your eyes open.
Sometimes the biggest obstacle to creative thought is the business itself – or rather, the way people (including you) think of it. Every business has a tacit or implicit rulebook. Fortunes come to those who break the rules. Make a list of the rules in your business. Think of a creative way to break each rule.
The more ideas you generate, the more innovations you will be able to carry out. As the saying goes, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince. Picasso painted more than 20,000 canvases. Bach wrote one composition a week. Edison conducted more than 9,000 experiments to develop the electric light. To boost the number of ideas in your firm:
- Learn to brainstorm.
- Set stretch goals for idea generation and try to go beyond the goals.
- Make sure all your meetings are exciting.
- Emphasize the importance of new ideas; never discourage or criticize a fresh idea.
- Carefully analyze all ideas. Cross-reference them; think of ways to use, improve or recombine them.
Hiren G is a director at Headrush Outbound. Headrush Outbound conducts light and intensive outdoor experiential learning for corporate clients, to a variety of different ends – from leadership development, to creativity.