How to Build Your Own Idea Refinery

Ideas are the fuel that drive our economy and if you listened to this week's Engaging Brand Podcast, you will hear that although 94% of people think creativity is vital, only 35%  believe they have the skills and processes to deliver them.

Wow….just think about that for a minute….for something that drives profitability, that create growth….less than a third believe they have the ability to deliver great ideas!

Here is how I see creativity – you know me, I love a little analogy.


1) The brand platform exists to bring great customer experiences. A brand needs to deliver innovation to keep moving forward…why? Because a brand is a promise to deliver time after time. 

2) The brand needs to keep drilling down for ideas to keep exploring for innovation. Innovation in terms of communication (social media for instance), in service, in customer experience, in products. Exploration is about

Nurturing talent and constantly exploring for the people who love ideas, who want to share ideas. Too many businesses look for talent when they need to fill a vacency….

A culture of what I call the treasure hunt mindset….that desire to keep looking, keep reading, keep learning, keep sharing….looking for the hidden treasure.

A disorganised mindset. No, I don't mean in terms of anarchy!  But in terms of thinking freely. It doesn't matter what the organisation chart says – ideas can come from anywhere – you, the cleaner, the customer, a supplier, reading a book, another function. It is not about who has it, it is about who recognises it. Don't make ideas fit the process, make the process fit the idea.

3) The pipeline needs to be constantly flowing. That means not having a brainstorming session once a year but a constant mindset of innovation. Do you allow 10% of your time and of your team's time to think differently? It is not about whether they are good or bad at this stage, it is just about a flow of ideas….

4) Some people talk about a pipeline of ideas as critical. Actually I beg to differ… is the ability to openly discuss the ideas and without favour, having the ability to recognise the one that commercially will help you grow and will help deliver that brand promise…thus delighting the customer. It is about refining the idea and filtering the ideas. Again it is not about all the problems with it or who had the idea – more if we can make it work…wow!

5) Once you have those ideas then you can drive them to market and fuel your growth. This is about overcoming obstacles or the people who say, 'we have never done it that way!'. It is about desiging a business process with a desire to bring the idea to life….not to make it fit with the way things are always done.

6) Once in the consumer's hands your role in innovation doesn't stop…..openly embrace feedback – good or bad. What about watching people pick or use your product….learn what doesn't excite the market and correct it…learn what excites and think about how you can do it more! Feedback is a wonderful source of knowing where to explore next…..Feedback is not a reflection of you, it is a pipeline of idea energy to ignite your next idea.

7) With all innovation there is risk. With no innovation there is even more risk – the risk that you become irrelevant. It is not about ignoring it, it is about managing it, about balancing it. For instance feedback can be constructively dealth with through social media.

We all know how important innovation is, none of us are Einstein or Edison…we don't have to be! Innovation can be as small as thinking of a different way of answering the phone, of how you package, of how you take payment…..the best innovations are often not new, they are just an exisiting idea made better….or an existing idea adopted in a different scenario.

In the week that we lost JR Ewing……pay tribute and start your own idea exploration platform!

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