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CAREER TIPS - 12 Ways Leaders Generate Ideas

Posted 22nd March 2021 • Written by Eli Amdur on •

″The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.″ - Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling

How to generate endless flows of ideas

  1. Always engage in mind stretching. Encourage everyone to engage in all sorts of mental exercises, related to your business or not.
  2. Say “what if?” A lot! It’s the world’s greatest question and the favorite of a guy who had a few good ideas: Albert Einstein.
  3. Break all the rules. Read the Apple Manifesto and think what Steve Jobs did by breaking rules.
  4. Set unreasonable expectations. When Airbus and Boeing did that, they developed the A-380 and the Dreamliner. Neither was remotely possible before.
  5. Be ready to abandon your expectations. Sealed Air Corporation once made wallpaper padded with air bubbles. Not a commercial success. But when they got the idea that air bubbles were protective, Bubble Wrap was born.
  6. Stretch your definitions. Folks in the telephone business in the 1960s could go one of two ways: keep making phones that were just phones or start making devices that were just about everything to everyone.
  7. Create a cause, not a plan. When Jack Welch took over GE, he declared they’d be #1 or #2 in every business they’re in or they’d get out of the business. Suddenly, everyone knew exactly why they were coming to work each day.
  8. Listen to new voices; embrace new ideas. In 1958, Bill Gore, a DuPont chemist, developed new ideas for coatings. His employer was not supportive enough, so he took his ideas and started W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc., with revenues today of roughly $4 billion.
  9. Let talent prevail. John Wooden, arguably the greatest coach ever, used to say, “I’d rather have lots of talent and less experience than lots of experience and little talent.” Talent was at the very center of his Pyramid of Success.
  10. Reduce risks of experimentation. Then reward it. It’s why and how Arthur Fry took a simple idea for a bookmark that would stay in place and, in a supportive organization (3M), turned it into Post-It Notes.
  11. Create dimension, not disagreement. When Lou Gerstner, author of Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance, did that in the 1990s, he turned around the fortunes of IBM.
  12. Act like a cell – divide, divide, divide. When a good idea emerges from one division, department, or subsidiary, and it’s suitable to all, that’s what you do with it.

Two-time Nobel laureate Linus Pauling said, “The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.”

The best way to have lots of ideas is – well, start with any one of these 12.

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