Welcome to this series on ideas, what they are, how we get them, what we do when we have them and how we grow them. Over the next few weeks, I will explore tools for exploring and developing ideas and then focus on ideas in particular situations – land, water, food, transport environment, health, retail, construction, clothing and fashion, arts and crafts, recycling and personal services.
An idea is defined as a formulated thought or opinion – a thought or a suggestion as to a possible course of action — a plan, thought, or suggestion, especially about what to do in a particular situation.
For example, you might have an idea about how to counter the effects of climate change on your island or what to do about youth unemployment or how to prepare for a cyclone.
Walk around the streets closest to where you live and begin to write down what could be possible.
What are the challenges that need to be overcome and what ideas come to mind. Ideally do this with a friend or colleague and start an ideas conversation as you walk. Maybe take a theme to focus on.
For example, think about your neighbourhood or community through the eyes of children. What are their needs? Where do they play? How do they get to school or the park? What keeps them safe? Make a list of questions before you go on your walk and take photographs to remind you of what you see. If you can, talk to children and their parents.
Start to develop your own ideas process which you can refine and use in every situation.
When you get back home or to your shop or office then talk about what you saw and begin to brainstorm the needs and how you might respond.
Create an ideas board just focused on the needs of children and young people. Draw pictures and use key words or images. The object of this exercise is to develop your own creative thinking ability and your confidence to express yourself sometimes to others who might be cynical or disinterested.
There is no reason why you should not expand your thinking and consider the whole neighbourhood. Think about issues like energy, waste, community, safety, transport, businesses.
Excitement is infectious! If you get excited about something new then others will follow and the more people you involve the better because there will be more heads to help find creative solutions.
Perhaps there is an existing group in your area – a youth group or community or business organisation – that you could get involved. Turn them into an ideas group. Focus on what is possible not on what stops progress, which unfortunately is where so many organisations get stuck.
Ideas require forward thinkers, people able to imagine what the future could look like. Many years ago, I was involved with a community ideas process in New Zealand called an idea wall.
We took over a large empty shop for a few weeks, covered all the walls in white paper and invited anyone to come in and start to create an idea for their community.
There were lots of coloured paper and pens and sticky notes! What happened was that as one person identified an idea others would come and expand or add to it. So, the idea grew organically. The whole process brought people together to think, positively, about their future. Many of those ideas were turned into actual projects and achieved.
Imagine doing that in your family or community or business or province or country.
Think about your business – I remember working with a small engineering company who used to invite a small group of customers and suppliers in every couple of months for an ideas meeting. They simply asked their customers what they could do better and what else was needed.
Not only did this process strengthen key business relationships, it also provided the business team with totally different perspectives that they could then develop and benefit from.
Ideas can come from anywhere at any time. The challenge to us all is whether or not we are open to understanding and considering them or are we so engrossed in our own ways of doing things that we ignore other possibilities.
Remember that your future will be built on a constant flow of new ideas.
Next week I’ll continue to explore small business ideas and how we might practically develop them. I hope you are enjoying this series all about ideas.
Please send me feedback and if you have any other suggestions or any questions or comments, please contact me.
Breadfruit Consulting (www.breadfruitconsulting.com) is a Vanuatu-based business providing advice, training, coaching, and mentoring to businesses throughout the Pacific islands. Breadfruit specialises in a range of business development activities including ‘business continuity planning and action’, helping businesses to survive in a crisis, designing and starting new, sustainable businesses. Contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
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