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What's "The Big Idea?"

Demonstrating a culture of innovation with a powerful teambuilding program.

Jigsaw – 416 220 4430

There’s nothing like that moment you realize people “get” something you’ve worked hard to develop.

That moment came for me a few weeks back as I stood on stage in front of a hundred employees from a global manufacturing company. I was trying to get them to finish a brainstorming exercise and they paid me no attention.

They were wholly engaged.

I couldn’t stop smiling.

What – High energy, real world and real time.
For the past few years, I’ve been taking an important message out to clients around the world – we need to think about thinking more. Companies agree. Many refer to developing a “culture of innovation.” What I don’t see enough of is a prescriptive approach to what that culture of innovation looks like. What do the steps look like to generate ideas?  

My answer is something I lovingly call The Idea Factory. This process breaks down into three categories – See. Solve. Sell. I host keynotes, workshops and ideation sessions on all three topics – whether it’s How to Tell a Story (sell) or How to Think (solve).

This session was a new way to approach The Idea Factory. For one, it’s not conceptual. Companies want to solve real problems. That’s why my team developed The Big Idea. It’s a teambuilding program that’s one-part Shark Tank on stage, one-part rapid-fire idea development process and one-part quick-hit tips for imagining, developing and selling ideas.

How – Exercises, tips, showbiz.
Here’s how it worked for this team. After an introduction on a big stage, I divvied up the room of 100 into smaller pre-determined groups. Each group was given a theme (like Performance Management or Innovation) and had to work through three timed exercises to generate a big list of ideas, develop one of those ideas, then learn how to pitch that idea in just 75-seconds. I popped up between each exercise to provide a specific tip on how to collaborate better, how to disrupt traditional thinking and how to make the first line of the pitch count. Finally, representatives from each team climbed the stage to make the pitch to senior executives in the organization.

What I learned – timing + prescriptive + accountability = next generation teambuilding.
The outcome was fantastic. Teams were buzzing with energy and ideas right from the getgo because the exercises were clear and supported by some great brainstorming tools I developed. I’m finding teams are increasingly looking for process – “just show me the steps” is a familiar refrain. We pushed people through a funnel of exercises to get them prepared to sell one idea. And of course, it doesn’t hurt when there are prizes on the line, you get to share your idea on stage, and your boss is among the judges reviewing the idea. Together, these elements provided hundreds of new ideas worth exploration over the next year, recognition for great work and proof of concept when it came to creating that culture of innovation.

In all, it was a revealing experience for me. People are hungry to contribute. With The Big Idea, they’ve got a new way to learn how.