Vision, Focus & Baby steps
Two weeks ago I wrote about how to implement creative ideas. How developing a list of action-oriented steps (right after the brainstorm session) can help clarify what needs to be done to realise the ideas. This week I like to build upon that article.
In my opinion, innovation – or in other words: implementing an idea successfully – has three basic elements; vision, focus and baby steps.
Google X is a great example of an organisation that thinks in ‘larger than live’ goals. They have adopted the term ‘Moonshot Thinking’ for their most innovative projects.
In short, moonshot thinking is about choosing not to be bothered by the knowledge that something is “not possible”. It’s about utilising science and technology and having the guts to build a 10 fold better product instead of a 10% better version. Needless to say, this forces you to start (and think) all over again to figure out how this can be done.
Obviously, the term is lent from JFK’s vision to “put a man on the moon”. Until today that ambition and its realisation still inspire many people and organisations from all over the world. It has motivated many innovators to stretch their abilities and to aim further, towards the impossible.
With an inspiring point on the horizon, your team will be easy to motivate. Who doesn’t want to”put the new man on the moon.” With an extremely ambitious goal, people will take the additional step and will try much harder.
Never mistake vision for vagueness. A great vision is simple and easy to understand. It is described vividly and sparks the imagination. You don’t need a lot of imagination to see the image of a man walking on the moon.
“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”
~ Walt Disney
It’s awesome to have a grand vision. Nevertheless, it is also important to subtract challenges from that vision. Ask questions like: What do we need to get there? What do we need to achieve this?
Just saying that you want to do it will not bring you far. You probably want to define some ‘focus areas’, specific topics that you can think about. Sticking to the ‘moon’ metaphor, you can think about; space suits (What can we wear in space?), moon vehicles (How we can transport ourselves?), rockets (How do we get there?) etc.
Sitting in a room with a bunch of people and coming up with novel ideas is a lot of fun. Ideation sessions are usually high energy. It’s great to think up new stuff with others. However, when people are engaging with creative thinking they often get so excited that they lose track of the overall challenge.
Despite the fact that the process of innovation is fun, it is, above all, serious business. That’s why you should always be clear about the objective of the brainstorm. For what challenge are ideas needed?
When running a brainstorm session a razor sharp focus is crucial. To learn more about this topic, you might want to read René’s article; 5 Steps towards a clear focus.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Many of us have heard this saying, yet when it comes to working on major goals (or ideas) we forget to apply its wisdom.
When you talk about moonshot thinking, do you think that Neil Armstrong and his team went to space, the moon and back in one shot? Of course not.
Every innovation is a major journey achieved by tiny steps. One step at the time. One success after another.
No matter how small, always be proud of every achievement you make. Don’t forget to celebrate them once in a while with your team. It keeps the energy up and helps to make progress visible.
Next time you are working on an idea, don’t lose track of the bigger picture and aim for the moon. Turn your goal into small concrete steps and take these steps one at a time…
Ask yourself with each project:
- What do we want to achieve with this idea?
- What’s the bigger goal?
- Can we come up with our own “man on the moon” scenario?
- What are the separate challenges in this vision?
- Is the focus clear to anyone?
- Is the challenge specific?
- What can we do this hour that will get us closer to our goal?
- What can we do today? Tomorrow? This week?
- How would a roadmap of this project look from start to finish?
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