What Makes an Idea "Good"?
"The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away." Or so said American scientist, activist and educator Linus Pauling.
Though it appears he states the obvious, Pauling makes an excellent point about the mysterious and somewhat daunting process of ideation, which, more simply put, is the process by which ideas are formed. Ostensibly some of these ideas are valuable, but how do we separate the good ideas from the mediocre? And how can we ensure that the "pipeline" of ideas continues to flow?
I had the opportunity to chat with Bristol Farms CEO Kevin Davis just before the New Year about this very topic. Davis, who recently was honored with the Robert B. Wegman Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence by the Food Marketing Institute, says the first step toward capturing good ideas is to be sure that you are exposed to–and open to–a wealth of them.
"Look for innovation everywhere," he says.
The key word to remember, incidentally, is "open." Davis explains that he happily welcomes visits from groups of Japanese retailers to presidents of CPG companies, all with the goal of constantly infusing his team with input and feedback from myriad sources.
Davis, who has spent 45 years in the grocery business, has also learned that good ideas must be replicable and scalable. What may work in a single store may be more difficult, or impossible, to implement in other locations. Execution, he explains, is as critically important as the idea itself.
The final test of a good idea, he says, occurs when it reaches the rank and file responsible for implementation. "If your employees haven't bought in, the best idea won't make it. If the people who have to execute the idea don't believe in it, it just doesn't work," Davis says.
Contributing editor Kathy Furore further explores this topic in our Trends coverage, which begins on page 10. Give some thought to your organization's ideation process as you strive for innovation in your business.