Kash Gokli, Director of Clinic Programs and Head of the Manufacturing Practice at Harvey Mudd and I recently led our 13th Harvey Mudd Executive Roundtable.  We had some engaging discussions on growth strategies from multiple vantage points – small and medium-sized, closely held businesses, non-profit business, large complex, global organizations and private-equity backed companies.  It is amazing how much we had in common – no matter the industry, company size or footprint, every executive was concerned about culture and its impact on growth strategy.

I found one CEO’s comment especially intriguing – he mentioned the concept of “idea velocity“.  This topic has increased in importance in my business recently.

It turns out that the “be all, end all” in success for consulting comes down to “idea velocity”.  What are you doing to stimulate ideas? I think this is essential no matter the industry. What executive or company will be successful in today’s Amazonian marketplace if short on ideas?  Not many!

One tip to implement this week:
Don’t despair if you aren’t an idea factory.  First, undoubtedly, you have more ideas in you than you think.  The key is to help them make their way to the surface.

For example, when I interviewed for my promotion to VP of Operations and Supply Chain (as it required an interview by our new private equity backers), although I knew I could get results, I wasn’t too sure about my creative idea generation abilities because I viewed it as “developing the new sticky pad (3M)”.  It turns out that it’s all about repackaging and recombining of key information, products and services. We all have the ability to do that! However, you do not have to do it alone. That’s the point of having a team, colleagues, advisors and supply chain partners who can help spur ideas.

With that said, I recently was in an idea rut even though I surround myself with all of these resources – and more.  I didn’t realize it at the time but not enough was bubbling to the surface. What turned that around was expanding my circle of influencers  (a bit of diversity goes a long way) and realizing that not all idea collaborators are created the same (for each person and what works for him/her).  Finding that right combination “worked”.

Instead of groaning when “assigned to a team with someone you are less than thrilled to be paired with”, see it as an opportunity.  You never know who will spur an interesting idea or who is particularly good at brainstorming with you. Some exciting new ideas might just jump to the surface.  

Put yourself out there and it will happen.

 

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