How do you define an idea?
According to Jeremy Utley, Director of Executive Education at Stanford University’s d.school, an idea is a connection. Our brains don’t create new material from scratch — an idea comes from stitching together pieces of existing knowledge in an unexpected way, from building new bonds.
When it comes to sparking ideas and embracing innovative thinking, Utley provided a few key pointers:
- Innovation is a volume game: If you want better ideas, you need more ideas.
- To get more ideas, seek out new inputs: Identify collaborators, customers, and other sources of inspiration and unexpected inputs that stimulate imagination.
- Innovation is a high variance activity: To increase the odds of genius ideas, you have to put up with goofy ones, too.
- Seek out good connections if you want good ideas: Look outside of our in-tact team, organizations, and even industries.
The latter point is fundamental for how we foster innovation in this new world of work — we need to talk to collaborators, customers, and colleagues to learn new things, brainstorm, and form connections. If we want to court ideas, we have to court connections.
For more insights on how to generate new ideas through connection, watch Utley’s Building Forward webinar here.