In this thing called Life we often seek instruction or advice from others to learn what not to do and what works best for others. Think about it... When you were two years old, you didn't know how to tie your shoe laces. Nope, you had to learn from an experienced shoe lace tie-er. When you started your first job, you most likely didn't know anything about merchandising, making food a specific way, or counting out a till - you had to be trained by an experienced person.
Soak up all the knowledge and ways around you. Keep your mind constantly open to new ideas and old ideas. Sometimes you biggest "light bulb" moments come from these. Look at the world through a different lense, the seeking out knowledge lense. Here you will learn different ways of doing the same thing and betters ways to do what you are already doing.
A long time ago I was seeking out a more efficient way to handle our inventory and logisitics processes. See, I was in an industry where you do not classify items as inventory because of their nature - long story for another time. However I was very open to the concept that although we fit into a specific industry, we had many things in common with other industries. This led me down a long path to discover a new direction and ultimately make the company better at it's core. Most of my light bulb moments happen when I am away from the office. Just so happens that I was at a stop light looking around at every object and person to find my answer. I would see a tree and ask, how could that fit into the equation. I would see a person walking their dog and ask, how could that fit into the equation. From these, I would spin and spin the idea until I had something of value to further investigate or something to set aside. Then, it hit me. I was looking at a Mercedes courier vehicle and thought... if we consolidated our efforts, we could move inventory around to where it is highly utilized - increasing product quality, timeliness, and availability, reduce shipping costs to customers, reduce expenses by way of negotiating better terms for consolidated vendor services and reduction of administrative staff that were already poorly utilized. Not a ingenious concept within the transportation and logistics industry, but it was in my industry.
In my mind, this was still a concept. I kept spinning and spinning on it and.. it seemed feasible but I knew I had to investigate it further before it could become anything more. The next day I shared my blurry concept with another key individual at the company and they lit up. It was the most genious concept they had heard. They were excited. So, I got to work analyzing all the details. It was viable! I created a plan for implementation and measurements of success. I met with key individuals and then the company as a whole to announce the opportunity. I got everyone on board and behind the change.
And guess what? Turns out that this Mercedes courier van ended up saving the company millions of dollars while providing better service to our customers and reducing their cost of the product.
You have genius ideas all the time! You only need to be open to exploring them further.
Another way to generate good ideas is to talk to others. Meet with people in your industry, even if they are your compeition. Network and go to select events where you can gather knowledge and meet new people.
Did you say talk to competitors? Yes! Obviously, you do not want to give out proprietary information but you can learn a lot by talking to them about industry news and how they do things. If you are really good at it, you can even form an alliance where services can be referred when one or the other is unable to handle the request.
Look! Don't be so afraid of speaking to competitors. So long as you aren't handing out all the private company information you could actually learn a lot to take back and use. One example I have is from a competitor I met at a conference. This person was great and we instantly hit it off. We could talk about all the news in the industry and it was during this conversation that I learned they were doing something we weren't. In fact, we had never even thought of it before. When I returned to the office, I spoke with co-workers and we got to work. This change was fairly simple to make and it saved the company a ton of money. It didn't affect how we performed or the services that we offered but cut a lot of the expenses out of the middle. Who knew!
Well, now you do.
We all learn from somebody. If you remain open to receiving new ideas, exploring new concepts, and consider them in your optimal genious moments - great things can happen.
April Salsbury, MBA is a strategist, an analyst, an operational guru, a recognized leader and C-suite global healthcare executive with drive and focus for competitive markets. Co-host of The Business Forum Show and regular contributor to various business journals, she possess multi-functional and multi-national competencies with more than 15 years experience in business and healthcare. Her expertise is in invigorating revenue growth and infusing value of lean practices in growing companies through improvements to cash flow and operations management.
Fueling revenue, growth and profit, Salsbury & Co. is a consultancy firm focused on helping businesses and healthcare organizations achieve excellency. Our specialists have executive experience combined with deep functional expertise to provide our clients with services that drive real impact and results.
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