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Giving Your Ideas Some Space

All ideas need space. They need space to breathe, shape, and grow.

A full court press on your ideas has the potential of suffocating and limiting innovation. Although some of the most creative ideas have emerged from intense, last minute efforts, it should not be the norm of the way you develop your ideas. It’s unlikely that ideas created last minute (especially in cases of procrastination) will morph into the best possible idea.

For those of you who are reflecting on your glory days of last minute “creative” work for classes in college, the reality is that, in most cases, this will not work in the real world. Ultimately, you may create a concept just good enough to satisfy an employer or client, but it will rarely be your best work. You will end up compromising your quality over the long run.

So how do you create some space? Here are some practical tips that I’ve embraced over the years:

  • Plan Ahead When Possible – Outside of last minute requests, do your best to create a process that will allow you to plan ahead. If you’re a creative, is there a process that allows you to go through developing concepts? Do you have a timeline (not just deadlines)?
  • Invite Outside Voices – Although there may be some areas of confidentiality, are you able to invite outside voices, even voices outside your field, into conversation about elements of your idea? I often invite or hire outside consultants to help me better think about my concepts. That kind of investment usually goes a long way to idea implementation. If your budget is low, I hope you have enough relational capital to draw from to help you out. In addition, take some regular time to read outside of your field. I subscribe to a handful of blogs in areas I don’t professionally work in. Even reading 15 minutes a day will make a world of difference.
  • Walk Away – If time allows, walk away from your idea development. Work on something completely different for a couple of days. Give your idea and yourself some space to reconsider. If you’re a serial entrepreneur, I dare you to take a weekend off!

These are simple practices but immensely helpful if implemented.

I hope you find these helpful.

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Charles is the CEO & Chief Idea-Maker at Ideation, a brand innovation company that specializes in helping businesses & organizations build remarkable brands via innovative business design, organizational change architecture, brand integration, design, web, and marketing services. He is also the author of Good Idea. Now What?: How to Move Ideas to Execution, a practical book designed to help people move ideas to implementation. Charles is regularly invited to speak to leading companies and organizations on topics such as creativity, innovation, idea-making, and branding. Executive leaders from brands including Wells Fargo, Toyota, The White House, Catalyst, William Morris Endeavor, mun2, Council of Urban Professionals, Chick-fil-A, and many others have benefited from having Charles present at their key events.