- Ideas don’t come from watching television
- Ideas sometimes come from listening to a lecture
- Ideas often come while reading a book
- Good ideas come from bad ideas, but only if there are enough of them
- Ideas hate conference rooms, particularly conference rooms where there is a history of criticism, personal attacks or boredom
- Ideas occur when dissimilar universes collide
- Ideas often strive to meet expectations. If people expect them to appear, they do
- Ideas fear experts, but they adore beginner’s mind. A little awareness is a good thing
- Ideas come in spurts, until you get frightened. Willie Nelson wrote three of his biggest hits in one week
- Ideas come from trouble
- Ideas come from our ego, and they do their best when they’re generous and selfless
- Ideas come from nature
- Sometimes ideas come from fear (usually in movies) but often they come from confidence
- Useful ideas come from being awake, alert enough to actually notice
- Though sometimes ideas sneak in when we’re asleep and too numb to be afraid
- Ideas come out of the corner of the eye, or in the shower, when we’re not trying
- Mediocre ideas enjoy copying what happens to be working right this minute
- Bigger ideas leapfrog the mediocre ones
- Ideas don’t need a passport, and often cross borders (of all kinds) with impunity
- An idea must come from somewhere, because if it merely stays where it is and doesn’t join us here, it’s hidden. And hidden ideas don’t ship, have no influence, no intersection with the market. They die, alone.
When Sunil Bharti Mittal outsourced just about every major function at Airtel to different Vendors like IBM, Nokia Ericson, the Business world was taken by surprise. I remember a leading business magazine questioning the move as a part of its cover story. That radical move changed the face of the industry and now outsourcing major functions to vendors has become the norm – not just in telecom companies but others too.
That means that Airtel does not have ‘direct’ control over a large part of its business. The actual ‘job’ is done by someone else. Some vendor that they decided to sign up with. Which means, if the Vendor Screws up, Airtel Screws up. If the vendor excels, Airtel excels.
Given the way business is evolving globally and the huge focus on sticking to ones Core Competence [ God Bless your soul CK Prahlad], Vendor Management is going to be a
major component of whether your business succeeds or not.
Whether it is as intimate a relationship as outsourcing your entire IT function OR creating brochures for you company – you are dealing with a vendor. But what do we usually do with our vendors? So do we consider Vendor Management as the most ‘Strategic’ part of our business ??
I don’t have some comprehensive list on what you should be doing – but here’s a start.
- Do you enjoy working with your Vendors ? Is the process of doing business fun for both of you’ll ? Not just the end product. But the process of getting to the end product. You are going to spend a large part of your working hours dealing with Vendors. If you can’t stand their sight, there is no point working with them.
- Is your vendor making a descent amount of money of the transaction ? You heard me right. It should be your concern that the vendor makes a descent amount of money of the transaction. Negotiate well. But don’t haggle to death and kill your vendors joy of working with you. Often 4 people try to negotiate a single deal. Beat the rate and vendors to death. In the end, the joy of doing business is gone. The vendor is not making enough money and stops feeling strongly about the project at hand. He may do stuff for low margins out of some compulsion but will rarely produce great work if he is unhappy with the way he is remunerated.
- Is your vendor trustworthy ? Can u trust him to deliver?
- Does your vendor understand your company well ? The culture, the working etc ? more importantly, is he taking the effort too??
- Is your vendor enthusiastic ?? Big factor. Enthusiasm is infectious. If your Vendors are enthusiastic that’s bound to rub off on you. Enthusiasm about work is the biggest key to the success of any business.
- Will he go out of his way for you ? In any business, slip ups are bound to happen. You will slip up really bad. Your boss would be sitting on your head for something. At that time, does your vendor go out of his way to meet your need and that of the company? If he saves your rear when you need it, that’s a sign of a real good vendor. [ I’m DEAD serious]
- Does your vendor believe in Innovating ? You are often as Innovative as your vendors. If your vendor does a super creative event or ad film – your company becomes innovative. So ensure that you work with Vendors that believe in Innovation as a philosophy.
- Work with a few trusted Vendors instead of spreading yourself too thin.
In my years as a Professional, I have realized that you are often as good as your Vendors. Finding the right Vendors for my business – both – when I worked for a Fortune 50 company or an entrepreneur has been a struggle. So go out and look for them. Once you have found them, don’t let them go.
My colleague Chris Trimble and I have polled hundreds of managers, asking them to define innovation. Usually, managers equate innovation with creativity. But innovation is not creativity. Creativity is about coming up with the big idea. Innovation is about executing the idea — converting the idea into a successful business.
We like to think of an organization’s capacity for innovation as creativity multiplied by execution. We use “multiplication” rather than “sum” because, if either creativity or execution has a score of zero, then the capacity for innovation is zero.
Chris and I have devoted the last ten years studying one question: What are the best practices for executing an innovation initiative? Our book, The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge, is the result of that effort.
Here’s why we worked on execution, as opposed to creativity: We surveyed thousands of executives in Fortune 500 companies to rate their companies’ innovation skills on a scale of one to 10, one being poor and 10 world class. Survey participants overwhelmingly believe that their companies are better at generating ideas (average score of six) than they are at commercializing them (average score of one).
So which is more effective — moving your (already good) creativity score from six to eight or lifting your (very poor) execution score from one to three? Here’s the math using our shorthand, creativity times execution:
Capacity to innovate = 6 x 1 = 6
Capacity to innovate, increasing creativity score = 8 x 1 = 8
Capacity to innovate, increasing execution score = 6 x 3 = 18
It’s no contest. Companies tend to focus far more attention on improving the front end of the innovation process, the creativity. But the real leverage is in the back end.
Ideas will only get you so far. Consider companies that struggled even after a competitor entered the market and made the great idea transparent to all. Did Xerox stumble because nobody there noticed that Canon had introduced personal copiers? Did Kodak fall behind because they were blind to the rise of digital photography? Did Sears suffer a decline because they had no awareness of Wal-Mart’s new every-day-low-price discount retailing format? In every case, the ideas were there. It was the follow-through that was lacking. In fact, we have found that innovation initiatives face their stiffest resistance after they show hints of success, begin to consume significant resources, and clash with the existing organization at multiple levels — that is, long after the idea generation stage.
Managers seem to be enamored with the Big Idea Hunt for three reasons. First, coming up with an idea does not create tension with the core business. Second, ideation is sexy, while execution is long, drawn out, and boring. Third, companies think they are good at execution. But generally they’re good at execution in their core businesses; the capabilities making that possible are poisonous for innovation.
Thomas Edison, the greatest innovator of all time, put it well: “Innovation is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Reflect on how much time your organization spends on inspiration versus perspiration. What are the barriers to execution? How are you attempting to overcome them?
When I was 24 I moved from Boston to L.A. in search of a record deal. Never got one, but Edgar Winter did record a song I wrote called, “Stranger to Love,” for a B horror movie called Netherworld. Those songwriting days taught me something important about new ideas, where they come from, when they surface, and how to relate to them.
Night after night I would go into my loft and bang away on my guitar, trying to coerce a song out of it. It would take me months to write each song. This method we might call How Not to Write Songs. I was going about it the wrong way, and I notice a lot of entrepreneurs and businesses doing the same thing. They create businesses without an idea, or without a strong idea (which is why you can’t understand what the hell they’re talking about when they describe it to you). They build form around the absence of an idea and call it a business.
Much smarter to build form around the substance of an idea.
Charlie Rose once asked Bruce Springsteen, “When do you write?” His reply: “When I have an idea.” As opposed to when he doesn’t have one. What a brilliant use of his time!
John Denver used to say (for you Millennials, he was RCA’s second-biggest record seller after Elvis) that, “the songs come when they’ve a mind to.” The idea for “Annie’s Song,” his biggest hit, came to him while he was on a chair lift during a day of skiing.
Springsteen and John Denver were both wise enough to know that you wait and watch for ideas, you don’t force them into being. Well, actually, you can hear instances where each of them did try to force it — and got lousy songs as a result.
Steve Jobs was asked years ago about how he planned to compete with the Wintel monopoly. He said, “I’m going to wait for the next big thing.” He didn’t say “I’m going to personally create the next big thing.” Neither iTunes nor the iPod was his idea. The iTunes idea came from a small company called SoundJam MP, and the genesis of the iPod was a design inside the head of Tony Fadell, a tech consultant who went to work for Apple. Steve Jobs’s brilliance was in keeping his eyes open for the ideas, recognizing the moment, connecting the dots, and “creating” iTunes and iPod as a system that worked together, adding Jonathan Ive’s designs, and marketing it all brilliantly. He wasn’t sitting at his desk banging his head against the wall trying to force an idea out of the universe.
In fact, to the extent that you are punishing yourself for the lack of an idea, or torturing yourself to come up with one, you may very well miss the idea that’s right under your nose, waiting to be acknowledged.
There are two simple rules I have learned about ideation: Look and wait.
Look. For years my company struggled to come up with the right slogan for our AIDS Rides. “Challenge yourself and you will grow.” Yuck. “The adventure of a lifetime.” Yawn. The more frustrated we got, the more the answer eluded us. Then one day we said to ourselves, “These events are impossible. You have to ride for grueling distances. You have to sleep in a tent and raise huge amounts of money from your friends. Most people look at them and think, ‘Impossible.’” Having admitted the truth, we stared at that word “impossible” for about an hour. And we noticed two words inside there. “I’m” and “possible.” “I’mpossible.” Our new slogan. It had been staring us in the face for four years. We just weren’t looking.
And as for waiting…This is tragic but instructive. In 1999 someone very close to me committed suicide. My grief and aching sadness wanted expression, and they found it in music. Ideas for songs about the tragedy started coming to me in rapid succession. On long walks. In the car. Without me asking for them. They were asking for me. In about eight weeks I wrote 13 songs, each of them based on an idea, and each of them better than most anything I had forced while banging away on my guitar in my loft years earlier. And they became my first album.
On top of that, an idea came for a suicide prevention event — called, “Out of the Darkness” — that has now raised millions for the cause. That idea would never have come to us sitting in our conference room at Pallotta TeamWorks trying to force an event into being. It came from a confluence of tragedy and emotion and timing. And, as a result, it was authentic, not a contrivance.
The idea may not come when you want it to, but when it does, it will be right on time. And it will be true to who you really are.
So, my advice to you: Go get an ice cream. Go ride your bike, or whatever it is you like to do. Relax a little bit. You can’t create the next big idea at will anymore than you can make the love of your life walk into the room in the next half hour.
Look. And wait. And while you’re at it, have a little faith — in life, in God, in the universe, in whatever you believe in. The universe is pregnant with ideas. Your passion for them is enough. They don’t go where they’re not wanted. But ideas have lives of their own. They have their pride. And they don’t reveal themselves to the impatient or the distracted.
That song I wrote, “Stranger to Love” — it was actually a good song. For one reason. It started with an idea.