At industry trade shows, creativity is on display everywhere: during keynotes, individual presentations and panels, in the exhibit halls, at booths and in many conversations between colleagues working the floor. This creativity spurs innovation, which leads to more creativity and further innovation.
As an ISO or MLS, it's likely you've left conferences with your mind full of new ideas and plans to take action. It's also likely a number of those terrific ideas and initiatives have slipped through the cracks. You return to work all fired up, and then all too swiftly become immersed in your routines and fail to explore new ideas.
Spurts of inspiration can also arise during the ordinary course of business and quickly be forgotten. You might learn of a promising new technology during a phone conversation and have new ideas as a result. You envision implementing them, but then have to address everyday demands, and the new ideas fade.
Wouldn't you like to capture and retain more of this wealth of inspiration? The good news is that this is possible. It's a matter of knowing how.
In Aha! 10 Ways to Free Your Creative Spirit and Find Your Great Ideas, Jordan Ayan wrote, "So what separates the people who experience the exhilaration of having their ideas come to life from those who sit back and continually wonder about what might have been? In many cases, it is simply a matter of the discipline to document their ideas and a method for doing so. The fact is, ideas that sit rusting in our minds are like cars in an automobile graveyard – eventually they become unsalvageable. If we try to rescue an idea two hours – or two years – later, we almost always fail."
One effective form of documentation, which some of you already use, is the obvious one: write your inspired ideas down immediately when they arise in an "idea journal." You can use pen and paper, a digital device or a combination of both.
Such a journal can take many forms. Some people like to jot ideas down on lined paper without much organization; others enjoy blank paper so they can draw diagrams or other visuals to accompany their brainstorms; others love entering notes in their mobile phones while on the go and or sitting at their desks. There is no right way to organize an idea journal. Experiment until you come up with a method that works for you.
And then stick with it. Review it often. Add new ideas as they arise. Analyze whether and how your ideas intersect. Brainstorm about possible new initiatives, programs and products, and the action steps that will build them, along with who needs to be involved to bring them to life. Some ideas might lead to new products and services right away; others will likely take years. Some will never be more than rough notes on a page. But over time, your idea journal will become a rich resource that will serve you well.
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