Fertile ground for an idea wasteland

When it comes to ideas, especially the more raw and complex ones, we tend to do a poor job tapping its biggest source. Can we (as people) embrace non restrictive idea sharing and are there ways in which open global innovation can start using the crowd when it comes to issues that affect all of us?

Juggling with a number of technology based ideas as a student (around 2004), I spent quite some time going through research papers, trying to get facts straight surrounding ideas and moulding concepts in private. There was no incentive to share any of those ideas with faculty members, relevant research associates or even peers. During that time, paths to ideate, collaborate, test and transition ideas towards potential innovations were unclear.

Even though emphasis was given on innovation, the workings of institutional R&D and intellectual property rights, something was missing. There was hardly any encouragement to share raw ideas, unless in the form of a competition or institutional innovation program and in such case either a complete business plan, or some proof of concept had to be in place. A lot has changed since then, there is much more emphasis on ideation now through methods like design thinking or collaborative learning. These methods however are mostly utilized within the confines of an organization. Having a level playing field where raw ideas can be submitted to connect with the world and gain support in terms of context, applicability and value, is not something I’ve come across.

With an ocean of raw ideas from creative future minded people all over the world, it seems as though we rely too heavily on Knowledge Institutions, Business R&D and Research Centers, to form and act on ideas that may one day lead to innovation. When it comes to purposeful ideation, unconventional raw ideas can have a hard time reaching any form of execution. What if we can incentivize open ideation and swiftly start connecting raw ideas with the right mixture of competence and motive?

‘Ideation without execution is a delusion’ (quote; Robin Sharma). Often the notion of an idea never being good enough or a tendency to keep ideas to oneself, will prevent you from stepping into any form of  ideation. The ability to take it a step further, depends mostly on one’s ability to feel comfortable sharing ideas and allow potential partners, opportunities, resources, and unforeseen factors to reveal themselves, sharpening the idea as it grips context and scrutiny slowly but surely. The thought that your idea may be a diamond in the rough will get you nowhere if it can’t get validated somehow!

So questions emerge; ‘Can we do a better job at recognizing and harnessing raw ideas?’  but more importantly, ‘How can we incentivize people to share their ideas and accelerate ideation?’

Answers appear in the combination of intention, trust and collaboration. Building intentional and collaborative ideation landscapes that provide fitting tools to instill trust, may create a pull on raw ideas and form a new pipeline for purposeful innovation of unforeseen width. 

Sparks for innovation are extensive and so are the means to make them a realty given the right context, motive and competence. When complex ideas linked to sustainable or resolve based development start to form in your mind, consider your options. Instead of hanging on to those ideas, make an effort to get them connected.

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