Many of us have great ideas. What we do with them is however, markedly different. Something that I have always done is what many call “ideating” or “brainstorming”. I’ve always had huge whiteboards and dry erase markers wherever I’ve been. At West Point, I quickly figured out that the walls were perfect for using dry erase markers and easily cleaning them off with Windex after a planning or study session. I used huge whiteboards in planning rooms in the Army, war rooms in combat, my corporate business offices, and all of the places I’ve lived. I actually have a 4’x8’ whiteboard and markers I use daily in my small apartment, which my girlfriend is slowly adjusting to…
The first step for me, with any “big” idea is writing out anything that might have to do with the idea and getting it all splattered in a big place (like a whiteboard). Once I do this, I am able to dig down into all of the words, phrases, and subsequent ideas that come as a result. From this point, it gets a lot more simple for me to assess what ideas get grouped into subcategories together. Once I have the ideas grouped, I can now move onto formulating a plan with a critical path to completion. A key fact that I’ve learned to love and has really calmed me and helped me through the successful execution of any plan I’ve ever developed (from a military operation to a business venture) is that a plan is JUST A PLAN – it’s a straight line, that there WILL ABSOLUTELY BE DEVIATIONS from – it’s the nature of life.
The maturation of an idea and the execution of a plan, like any story or song or piece of prose – heck, like LIFE – takes so many twists and turns and ends up being something totally different from what you thought it would be at the outset. The one constant remains that you keep forging forward and you keep working – you work hard at it and make adjustments as necessary, but you MUST keep moving the ball forward. I have found that I am continually surprised by the end product of an idea and overall usually pretty pleased with my results.
The theme of this entire site “You Are Not Alone” really plays into the next step with ideation. Your ideas are valuable and they have merit, but we have to understand that we are not alone and that there are resources around us – friends, partners, business associates, etc. that can lend additional insight to an idea you might have. It’s amazing the feedback and the input that I gained on countless occasions when I was planning a strategic mission in combat and pulled in random gunners, drivers, and lower ranking troops to join an ideation session. Everyone willing and available to you should be considered when going through an ideation or brainstorming session to develop a plan and see it through to execution. Granted, the combat situation is a little different than the business world in that everyone involved in planning a combat mission (usually) had the same objectives (get the bad guys, protect the good guys, free the oppressed, etc.) In business, if you have a team, use them – empower them – engage them and their ideas. This will create an environment where your team will feel more a part of ideas and plans and I guarantee you will gain some amazing ideas you wouldn’t have thought about.
I am currently developing an idea to do just this, but in a bit of a different setting. I am fortunate to have a very diverse mix of friends that I love and trust with business savvy minds and huge hearts. I plan on bringing this group of friends together to begin ideating and leveraging all of our minds to not only help each other in our respective ventures, but to eventually help others with their own plans, whether they are for start up companies or established companies that can use some fresh insight from people with amazing track records, savvy minds, and huge hearts.
Sit down and think about what you want. Write out your idea (Think Big!), then write out all of the things related to that idea, and enlist people you trust to gain their perspectives. Your network of people might be a much bigger resource than you think. Even if you take the first step in writing out an idea that you would like to execute and developing a plan, you’re on the right path. It will give you something to think about and lend energy towards when you have open pockets of time in your daily life. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!
Love & Peas,