Half a brilliant idea

Half a brilliant idea - Article by Greg Alder

You and I mightn’t have met, but I know this about you: you possess half a big idea (even if you’re not aware of it).

Not just half of one idea, but likely hundreds of them. Any one of these ideas could lead to innovations that will transform business processes, cure diseases, feed millions, invigorate communities, change behaviour and make a fortune.

Right now, none of these is possible because you only possess 50% of the idea.

So the question is, who’s got the other half?

Here’s a second question: How do you connect the two halves?

To answer the first question: The other half is almost certainly where you least expect it. If you’re an immunologist looking to halt the Ebola virus, the breakthrough probably won’t come from collaboration with other immunologists.

How can I be so certain of this? Because virtually every innovation of the last 200 years is the result of a connection between two seemingly unconnected facts or items. Chemistry was transformed by a mythical ancient Greek serpent. Deodorant was transformed by a pen.

The other half of your brilliant idea might be in the head of someone working in another department, another field or another country. The other half might be in something inanimate – an item lying about the room you’re in right now, a word in a novel or a photo in a magazine.

So, what’s the process for getting the two halves of your brilliant idea together?

It’s really quite simple. You need:

  1. An open mind. You have to believe that a janitor, an olive or an albatross might possess the other half of the cure for the Ebola virus.
  2. You need to make time for ideation and set parameters for the session.
  3. You need to employ creative thinking tools that will be the catalyst that connects the two halves of your big idea.
  4. You need to ditch all the reasons you can think of for rejecting an idea.

That’s it. At least, that’s the theory of it. The application requires some expert guidance.

Armed with a couple of fun & simple creative thinking tools, a small group will have no trouble generating 100 ideas in an hour. Experience suggests 10 of those ideas will be brilliant. Others will have the potential to also be great with a little work.

Many years ago I watched a group from the Singapore Tourism Board develop 100 ideas in 45 minutes. Before the workshop, none of them would have guessed they possessed 50% of a hundred big ideas to market Singapore more innovatively. They couldn’t believe where they found the other 50%. They couldn’t believe the ideas they came up with by combining the two halves using techniques they’d learnt only an hour earlier. The look on their faces was priceless, their pride palpable.

The techniques & tools are easy to learn. They work whether you’re an accountant, a classical composer or marine biologist. Once learnt, you have them for life. You can use them to generate ideas on demand to solve any unsolved business problem, reveal unseen opportunities and, ultimately, to transform lives – your clients’, your student’s, your community’s and your own.

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