The difference between a good idea and a great idea is the overwhelming sense of fertility and momentum and electricity that catalyzes inside of us when we have it. If this new thing we want to do doesn’t immediately make us think of five other exhilarating things that we want to do as a result, then it’s probably a good idea, but not a great one. This new thing has to inspire us to ask the leverage question, now that we have this, what else does this make possible?
OFFSPRINGING — Filtering the quality of new ideas by their ability to breed other ideas
The word prolific literally means, to produce many offspring. And that's the thing all great ideas do, they assert themselves but their own invisible momentum, like a tide. It’s a mysterious force that we may never fully understand. Debono famously called this movement value, which is the potential of one idea to breed others. Reminding us that everything we do should leave to something else we do. But the key is knowing the difference between making an interesting improvement, or a truly innovative idea that moves you to the next level.
I once helped launch an innovation lab at our startup. Our executive team was concerned that all employees might not know the difference between a good idea and a great one. And so, we created a filter. Every submission required a detailed answer to the following question. How is this a truly innovative idea that moves the whole company to the next level, and not merely an interesting improvement that helps one department? For example, one employee suggested that because we had so many attractive men and women at our company, we should create an annual swimsuit calendar. Not exactly innovative. It was a different kind of fertility than we were hoping for. But good thinking nonetheless. Kind of mad they didn't ask me to pose for the calendar, but whatever. On the other hand, one of our developers wrote an algorithm to help our customer service teams process claims twice as fast, which dramatically increased our monthly number of successful tickets. That was a great idea. Because it allowed our company to up the ante. Her few dozen lines of code gave hundreds of people this new wave of energy that carried us forward into the future.
Offspringing, when practiced regularly, can help to foster an experimental attitude within your company, promote futuristic thinking and give team members a chance to make a name for themselves. You may not invent the next ipod, but you never know what kind of creative brainchildren will be born. Who is the most underappreciated innovator on your team?
Foster a culture of innovation within your team
Help your organization up the creative ante on their work
Build a more satisfied and intrinsically oriented work force
Find movement value early so you can create momentum on projects
Launch projects that aren’t just incremental improvements, but innovations that move the company to the next level