This week on the Enterprise Shed: Making Ideas Happen MOOC we moved into another gear; we’re looking at where ideas and insights come from, whether they can they be made, and what inspires people and where people might go to find inspiration.
After the introductions of last week, there was a lot of communication back and forth between learners; offering advice, sharing experiences, pointing out nuances others may have missed in their own idea and a lot more – which was great to see. Later in the week, learners shared their problems with each other and provided feedback to each other, and this went down pretty well too.
Ideas make ideas which make ideas
There was a lively thread in the “Where do your ideas come from?” step, where someone said they hadn’t come up with an idea, so I suggested making a list of ten ideas based on ‘cheaper food in the supermarket’ (I think I’d been grumpy about the price of bananas at the time). I started it off, then someone else came up with a neat idea around packaging. I added another nine and challenged them to come up with nine more, which they did :). We were on a roll now, and I picked up on one of the nine ideas around making ‘old lady shopping trolleys trendy again’, which then lead to someone else suggesting that what was really needed was a ‘cute mobile grocery truck’ which played music as it traveled around. This then lead to a discussion about ice cream vans (which was the original inspiration for the truck, mainly because the music got you excited before you even saw the ice cream van) which lead to the truck selling other things such as coffee, pastries and donuts… This idea obviously and inevitably led to the idea of a musical Guinness van in Ireland. Now whether Dublin city council would be happy with a Guinness van meandering through the streets selling Guinness or not isn’t really the point, the point is that by starting with a simple thought ‘cheaper food in the supermarket’, we collectively went through almost thirty ideas and came up with something completely different. We could have picked any other idea than the ‘old lady trolley’ and ended up in a very different place.
It finally finished with us noticing that someone had thought of the truck idea, but for selling margaritas instead.
Ten is better than one, especially with ideas
It is usually easier to come up with ten ideas than it is one – if you only have one idea, it had better be a great one – one that cannot fail, whereas with ten, you can afford to have a few of them be a bit duff. The podcast James Altucher/Adam Grant: How to turn your next idea into a (successful) business talks about this (about 28 minutes in) – but do listen to the whole thing, there’s advice on procrastination, creativity, ideas, sharing of ideas, testing ideas, entrepreneurship and a whole lot more that’s of direct relevance to the course (in fact a learner and I talked about and dissected this podcast in course comments). There’s also Become an Idea Machine which helps to get you in the right frame of mind for creating 10 ideas a day.
What was really great to see was that learners were coming up with ideas and insights, testing them out on each other, adding to them, critiquing them and encouraging other learners.
Resources and Comments
A lot of really interesting things were mentioned in comments – they’re extracted out here so they’re easier to find and to allow people not on the course to get them.
- Claudia Azula Altucher – Become an idea machine – I recommended this a few times during the week, a really useful little book for getting you started creating ’10 ideas a day’ (part of the daily practice)
- How to be the luckiest guy on the planet in four easy steps – I think this is the earliest point where James Altucher surfaces the ‘daily practice’, do four things every day; something physical, something emotional, something mental and something spiritual. It works.
- For when those ideas hit you in the shower 🙂 Aqua Notes – Waterproof Notepad 40 Sheet Mountable Pad
- Someone was asking about getting started with App development, so I suggested bitfountain which is an online training company for iOS and Swift. I’ve bought courses from them in the past and they’re pretty good.
- One comment a learner had on what entrepreneurism means to them resonated with me: “there’s entrepreneurship with a big E and entrepreneurship with a little E. With a big E it’s the traditional concept of risking capital for a financial reward. But with a little E, there are so many benefits to expanding one’s capacity for entrepreneuship-ness; flexibility, responsiveness, sharing ideas, confidence, stepping outside one’s comfort zone etc.”
- Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World: Adam Grant, Sheryl Sandberg – not read this one, but it’s the book James and Adam were talking about in their podcast. It was also recommended to me by the same learner who dissected the podcast.
- One step on the course recommended some TED and other videos for the learners, amongst them: Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?, Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation, Susan Cain: The power of introverts (this one was well liked by learners) . Two I really like are Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are and John Cleese on Creativity – YouTube – this is only about 10 minutes long, but is packed with hints and tips on how to be creative.
- Recommended by a learner on the course, Philosophers’ notes: The Books is a service that distills optimal living books into very well designed PDFs and 20 minute MP3’s – I’ve not tried it out yet, but think I will as it seems to be similar to something I’m using called Blinkist, but the Philosophers notes PDFs look more information-dense.
- Finally, I recommended Scott Adams’ How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big as it’s a fascinating book that pitches ‘systems’ vs ‘goals’. His proposal is that you will find most successful people follow systems, not goals and when you do hear of a goal orientated person succeeding in a big way, it makes the news, which makes an interesting story. It’s got a big section on persuasion as well – a skill all entrepreneurs need!
We’re into week three now, which is all about how ideas develop into opportunities, so better put a bigger thinking cap on!