Friday, 13 March 2009

How to get a breakthrough idea and make it happen

Want to stand up and stand out with an offering that’s special and rare?

Want the energy and focus of people keenly doing really excellent, standout stuff together?

Had it with a work climate that’s impersonal, dispassionate, routine and closely structured; where there’s little real pride and people aren’t really doing it together?

You need to breakthrough to a new passionate, personal, exciting, shared understanding of what you collectively are and do, who you do that for, and how you do it. You need transformation: collective breakthrough understanding of the uniquely special aspects of what you can do and of doing it together.

And the same time you need to imbue the whole organisation with the new understanding so that everyone eagerly learns to live it normally, naturally.

That’s a tough call for most organisations because they aren’t set up for transformation. They’re set up to efficiently replicate a product or service; where managers know the answers, hold the power and authority, use it to gain compliance, and people do jobs rather than live roles.

Even incremental change is hard to achieve in a climate like that – let alone breakthrough. An ideas competition won’t produce do it. A management think tank won’t do it. A consultant won’t do it. Brainstorming won’t work either, because the managers will want to control it and the rest will expect them to.

Nevertheless brainstorming is the key because it can allow the unspeakable, the outrageous, the boring, the weird, and the stupid – the new ‘answers’ - to be spoken and heard along with the ‘right answers’. It can enable people to get to know each other deeper: to strengthen the relationships that will be crucial to implementation. It can lead to a widely supported “best answer”.

To brainstorm your way out of mediocrity and get run over in the rush to do really excellent, standout stuff together, try this:

  1. Get an outside facilitator to lead the brainstorm
  2. Make a team competition of getting the most unique ideas on the board.
    Give each team its own colour pad of post-it labels to stick its ideas on the board. No duplicates
  3. Make a time limit.
    The effect is a chaotic environment where new ideas can emerge through word association and lack of boundaries. Managers should risk looking stupid early as runners rather than writers or thinkers.
  4. Together, move the post-its into emergent clusters.
    In this process the meanings of words, ideas and concepts are discovered and explored.
  5. In teams generate sentences and paragraphs that express the concepts, ideas and sentiments of the clusters.
  6. Share the teams’ ideas and reach consensus on single outcomes.

Run separate brainstorms to achieve breakthrough, in your own words, on “who we do it for”, “what we do” and “how we do it”; look for the unique, special aspects that your customers will love you, and no one else, for; then get specialist copywriters to translate into marketing speak.

You’ll get better with each brainstorm; as people risk trusting the process.

The process itself is the transformation.

No comments:

Post a Comment