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April 8, 2016
Growth  |  6 min read

5 Things You Need to Read: The Ideation Edition

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Ben Snedeker

Every small business can trace its beginning to one moment where the founder thinks, “What if?” What if we can do it better? Or faster? What if we can do it more efficiently? Or altogether differently from how the rest of the world does it? What if we can do something no one has ever done before? That first innovative idea was the spark that set the flame.

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Now that the business is running, its survival depends on the free flow of innovative ideas. Whether it’s developing a new product, improving customer service, or poking holes in your current offering to be sure it’s bulletproof on the market, creative ideas are an indispensable part of running a small business. Yet in the fray of business management, creativity can lose out to pragmatic responsibility. If that happens, the longterm result can devastate the business.

We need innovation to improve our fulfillment supply line, or to develop a fresh marketing strategy, or to engineer our next generation product. We can be masters of our idea space by encouraging creativity and innovative thinking. This roundup offers you a moment to read up on how you can encourage, foster, and improve the flow of new, great ideas in your business. 

How to Run an Ideation Workshop that Actually Leads to Innovation (via @ideasbyoz)

You’ve hired a strong team of savvy forward-thinkers, and you have to consistently tap the idea set locked in their brains. Brainstorm sessions work about as well today as floppy disks do.

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They’ve been replaced by a much smarter concept—ideation workshops. 

We’re leading off our roundup with this article because ideation sessions are among the top ways businesses can foster innovation and, as the article describes, “help you get out of the stale modes of thought that can start to dull even the sharpest minds over time.” This article gives some great tips on what it takes to pull off a great session and get your people thinking way, way out of the box. 

4 Tips to Keep a Personal Journal That Can Help You Disconnect and Focus (via @Entrepreneur)

Brainstorming may be out, but new and shiny doesn’t always imply better. 

Take the idea of keeping a journal for digesting raw ideas, organizing information, and fostering creativity: The concept has been around since forever, but in recent years has been overshadowed by cool tech. Keeping a journal can seem quaint compared to a cross-platform creativity app.

But don’t write off journaling too quickly. Recent research demonstrates how written notes are actually better than electronic devices for remembering conceptual information over the long term.

This article dives into how you can use a journal to focus and develop your creative sense so that you can more readily make connections and innovate.

Which Kind of Collaboration is Right for You? (via @HarvardBiz)

Businesses looking to innovate should never go it alone, or so conventional wisdom says. Whether you crowdsource or carefully select a key group of advisors, collaboration is one of the best ways to innovate at your business. The challenge is identifying which kind of collaborative approach will lead to the best results for your business. This gem of an article from HBR offers guidance to get you started. 

How to Create a Culture of Innovation and Help Your Business Thrive (via @AmericanExpress)

Some of the best ideas in a company originate in a cubicle, not a corner office. 

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Businesses that foster a culture of innovation (and rewards it) tend to more successful. This article from American Express is a must-read for leaders looking to optimize creative thinking within their teams. 

3 Strategies for Making Innovative Thinking Routine (via @FastCompany)

To bring it all home, this article puts the final touches on how you can make innovative thinking part of your routine business operations. The message is that companies need to innovate all the time if they intend to remain successful. With innovation comes risk—new ideas present new possibilities, which means change. In some instances, change can take a business into uncharted territory. No one can blame businesses for taking a cautious approach to major decisions, but risk aversion can cause a missed opportunity. Too many missed opportunities can mean disaster. 

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This article addresses the number one killer of creative ideas in businesses: risk aversion, and presents the case that nimble and responsive businesses will use routine creative thinking to keep ahead of the competition.

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