18 May 15|Innovation

They call NYC the City of Ideas. There are banners everywhere reminding you of that.

They call NYC the City of Ideas. There are banners everywhere reminding you of that. We often need reminding when we start expecting creativity and innovation so much so that we take it for granted. We stop seeing it for what it is. A bit like breathing really. If you forget to do it you’re not in good shape but you don’t consciously remind yourself to breath – well not all the time anyway.

In NYC someone, somewhere, constantly, is taking advantage of an opportunity. The signs are everywhere. It rained this evening so the men that peddle handbags on the corners in Time Square were peddling umbrellas instead. They were still peddling the handbags but they were hidden under big black plastic bags. The umbrellas on the other hand were being offered on outstretched arms for $5. Those were the cheap options.

Meanwhile, downtown, people were walking over the Brooklyn Bridge and a woman was cutting up mangoes and bagging them. $3 a ‘glad sandwich’ bag …and she couldn’t peel those mangoes fast enough. She had the peeling wired though – cut off the top of the mango, a corn ‘holder’ pushed into the seed, a potato peeler separating the skin from the soft yellow fruit, cut the flesh from one side of the seed then the other, and chopped the halves into pieces. I could see the innovation process (the creative problem solving) in my head…’how can I make this better/faster/easier”…

Everyday, someone, somewhere, constantly is coming up with something new, whether it’s a totally new product or a new way of doing things. Mango lady is a great example of both. Sometimes I have trouble stopping the ideas flowing around in my head and often all the way out of my mouth. The trouble is, ideas are useless unless you can act on them. Which got me thinking about setting some guidelines/rules/suggestions around ideas so that there is some productivity, some ‘things being ticked off the to do list’ along the way. Much more satisfying than the proverbial list increasing exponentially.

Rule #1

If the idea isn’t in total keeping with your ‘why’, your raison d’etre,..maybe you need to DUMP IT. If it doesn’t make you want to jump right in and play, forget it. As an entrepreneur/intrapreneuer you won’t have the time nor the energy to keep up with what you have to do if you’re not in love with the idea in the first place. And it doesn’t matter how big or small that idea is – it will end up at the bottom of the list if it is not adopted with gusto.

Rule #2

Don’t think you have to do it on your own – Delegate. That is why at some point or level you are part of a team. Even if you work for yourself. Ernesto Sirolli, from the Sirolli Institute believes all entrepreneurs need to form teams to be truly successful, after all, how can you be a good visionary, accountant and marketer all at once? And if you are in an organisation, the option to find a ‘delegatee’ should be easier. Find someone who might even enjoy the task.

I just don’t enjoy inputting data. I’ve tried. I find it trying. Put accounting tasks and data together and I am likely to clean a bathroom instead! Someone recommended Shoeboxed to me, and it was a perfect fit. Delegated! When I worked in a large organisation and needed some marketing collateral created, I went to the marketing department. Sounds obvious doesn’t it, but the first time I went to them, they were inundated with work and I knew exactly what I wanted. So I thought it would be better/faster/easier if I did it myself. WRONG. A little patience was a good lesson to learn!

Rule #3

Do it! Get on with it. Do it! Refer to rules #1 and #2. Write the list. Break IT into smaller, bite size do-able pieces and Do IT. If you feel overwhelmed, talk to someone so they can help you prioritise. Get a business advisor. If it’s a good idea and you are in love with it, you won’t often need much encouragement. When you are having a “one step backwards” kind of day, and we all do, talk to someone you admire, read something that inspires you or just go for a walk. It’s amazing how we can sort through a maze when we give ourselves a moment to think.

So back to NYC, the City of Ideas. What have I learned over the past few days? I have learned that anything is possible. I saw two homeless men with a sign that read, “We are turning our own lives around”. They were selling second hand books. And people were buying. I saw a disused rail line that was now a major tourist attraction. I saw artists busking and people paying. I experienced people not communicating and people that couldn’t wait to help. And I saw construction and scaffolding and detour signs everywhere. Because there is no such thing as perfect. Because we can always strive for some small improvement. Because we all contribute in our own way. And because even when we are disappointed that something doesn’t happen as we planned, there is always a reason. It may not be obvious at the time but there is always a s reason.

"how can I make this better/faster/easier”

"how can I make this better/faster/easier”

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