The Idea Hunter's blog

Thoughts on better thinking and better presenting

Doing your bit to reduce petrol consumption

Quick question for you:

Let's say your goal is to reduce petrol consumption.

And let's say there are only two kinds of cars in the world. Half of them are Suburbans that get 10 miles to the gallon and half are Priuses that get 50.

If we assume that all the cars drive the same number of miles, which would be a better investment:

  • Get new tires for all the Suburbans and increase their mileage a bit to 13 miles per gallon.
  • Replace all the Priuses and rewire them to get 100 miles per gallon (doubling their average!)

This is from a recent post by Seth Godin highlighting a counter-intuitive arithmetical question. On first inspection it seems that option 2 is the best but work through an example and prove to yourself that option 1 saves more than double the amount of petrol.

Jim Telfer's 1997 "Everest" speech before the First Test vs South Africa

"The easy bit has passed. Selection for the Test team is the easy bit. You have an awesome responsibility on the eight individual forwards’ shoulders, awesome responsibility. This is your f***ing Everest, boys. Very few ever get a chance in rugby terms to get for the top of Everest. You have the chance today.

Being picked is the easy bit. To win for the Lions in a Test match is the ultimate, but you’ll not do it unless you put your bodies on the line. Every one jack of you for 80 minutes. Defeat doesn’t worry me. I’ve had it often and so have you. It’s performance that matters. If you put in the performance, you’ll get what you deserve. No luck attached to it. If you don’t put it in, then we’re second-raters.

They don’t respect you. They don’t rate you. The only way to be rated is to stick one on them, to get right up in their faces and turn them back, knock them back. Outdo what they do. Outjump them, outscrum them, outruck them, outdrive them, outtackle them, until they’re f***ing sick of you.

Remember the pledges you made. Remember how you depend on each other at every phase, teams within teams, scrums, lineouts, ruck ball, tackles.

They are better than you’ve played against so far. They are better individually or they wouldn’t be there. So it’s an awesome task you have and it will only be done if everybody commits themself now.

You are privileged. You are the chosen few. Many are considered but few are chosen. They don’t think f*** all of us. Nothing. We’re here just to make up the f***ing numbers. No one’s going to do it for you. You have to find your own solace — your own drive, your ambition, your own inner strength, because the moment’s arrived for the greatest game of your f***ing life."

Creativity - an individual act best done in groups

Groups contain a valuable mix of perspectives and a range of problem solving styles. The individuals in the group bring their own unique knowledge/skills/experiences and combine with the others to provide a vast collective pool of knowledge.  Within this pool are all potential elements of a creative idea. An idea is a new combination of existing elements. Once shared new elements reside, however fleetingly, in the minds of those listening. A new element can be the missing ingredient or needed spark that stimulates the new idea. However, whilst the new idea may never have happened if another person hadn't added that vital element the new idea can only ever be formed in one person's mind.

You can only combine/synthesize/associate two things you are aware of. The benefit of working in groups is in their ability to stimulate new ideas in individuals. The final act of creativity has to be an individual one.

Would love to hear anyone's thoughts on this.

From Ideas to Innovation

Ideas are easy/hard (delete depending on previous performance). Innovation is harder.

Why? Innovation starts with idea generation (well challenge identification if we're being accurate) and adds on selection and implementation. There are an ever increasing number of idea gathering offerings becoming available but for an organisation trying to embed innovation at the core of its operations these will not be sufficient.

Whatever an organisation's current innovation status an innovation process management system will be beneficial. The Jenni web application is one such system that all organisations who are serious about innovation must check out.

Seth Godin does it again

I take my proverbial hat off to Seth Godin, the respected agent of change. His latest book, Tribes, is yet another stimulating and inspiring piece of work. Very easy to read and digest. I always finish his books thinking "that's what I think too" but it is the clarity of his writing that most impresses. The book left me feeling that I have an insight that the majority don't but in keeping with the book's message I shall share it with others. Here are some comments that resonated with me. Free advice: read the book.Then read his other books.

Leadership is about creating change that you believe in

Organisations that destroy the status quo win

You can't manage your way to initiative

Ideas that spread, win

Lean in , back off, but don't do nothing

Faith is critical to innovation

Create change before change happens

The best time to change your business model is while you still have momentum

Tribes don't do what you want, they do what they want

The largest enemy of change and leadership is "not yet"

if your organisation requires success before commitment, it will never have either

Leaders create things that didn't exist before

"Why not you, why not now?"

Google Project 10*100

Take a peek at this google project as another example of companies exploring open innovation (see Dell and Starbucks for other examples). Big financial gains for very worthy ideas - worth tracking. Now, as with these other two the process seems to focus very much on the gathering of ideas and to varying degrees on the management and evaluation of those ideas. Idea management software exists that will conduct the whole process from requesting ideas, through evaluation and into the implementation stage. One service capable of doing all this is "jenni" which I have mentioned previously in a squidoo post.

Perfect for both innovation in products / services as well as cost cutting it could well be an area of increasing corporate interest as the struggle for profitable growth becomes even tougher.

How to draw on-screen in powerpoint

Dan Roam is author of "Back of the napkin", a book which looks at visual thinking as a way to gain new perspectives on challenges and to carry an audience along with an idea along enabling you to communicate more effectively. Waiting for my copy to arrive.

Anyway, he offers a useful tip for drawing when in ppt presention mode. If you need to draw on a slide here is how to do it.

For those with older versions of ppt (like me) then you can "CTRL+P" to change your arrow to a pen. Then use "E" to erase your scribblings and finally pres "ESC" to return to normal arrow mode.

See what you reckon.


Came across this wordle site today. Interesting way to look at a text's content. Input your text and see the "word clouds" formed by this novel toy. The image's appearance can easily be tweaked. If you want to save your image as a picture then do a "printscreen", crop with your picture toolbar and save as a picture. Could make a nice opener / background slide to a presentation when talking about what the presentation is going to cover.

Transatlantic tunnel

Love this! Fancy waving to someone (loved or unknown) in New York? Hold up a whiteboard with a question? Right now you can do thanks to a "tunnel" between NY and London. Seemingly it's a version of web-conferencing minus the sound but what fun. Must be loads of great uses for it - family reunions, proclamations of love, etc. What two venues should be next?

Framing your challenge

So important. So poorly done. In our headlong dash to come up with ideas/solutions this step is often overlooked. I'll post more on this subject (and techniques to help re-frame) but for now take a look at the post below from the excellent Before & After blog. Incidentally, Tom Monahan's book "Do it Yourself Lobotomy" is both a stimulating and entertaining read. Essentially, how a challenge is framed is the way it is described/depicted which then determines how you understand or interpret the particular situation or challenge. Words are clearly a major factor in this.

Have a look at the impact that just one word ("might") can make to your approach to a challenge.

Sustaining your innovation process

How can you maintain your innovation process? Below are some suggestions to get you thinking - most should apply to most companies. Compiling the initial list is easy - doing it is the hard bit!

  1. Establish the importance of innovation for your organisation and its role in the overall strategy
  2. 100% commitment from management - support, encourage, demonstrate, walk the walk
  3. Integrate innovation into organisation's culture
  4. Facilitate open communication at all levels - How is it working? What else could we be doing?
  5. Establish practical metrics for performance: non-perfect is better than none at all
  6. Recruit the right talent: open-minded, flexible, passionate, questioning, diverse backgrounds
  7. Set up access to fresh perspectives: customers, stakeholders, non customers, etc
  8. Provide creative thinking training for your people
  9. Set up an idea management system to solicit, capture and evaluate ideas (my fave - jenni)
  10. Involve your customers / consumers (open source collaboration)
  11. Look at "best practice" in model companies (Nokia, Apple, etc) to devise your own "next practise"
  12. Set up project teams that tap into your organisation's diversity (can you use external resources?)
  13. Give time and permission for experimentation and allow failures
  14. Set up a slush fund for innovation
  15. Consider skunkworks if size and nature of innovation will struggle within the parent organisation
  16. Recognise (and reward?) people's efforts
  17. Work in cycles to maintain focus and the flexibility to review and refine
  18. Innovate the innovation process: How could we do things differently?

Precise pricing

A recent report looked at how the opening price within an auction impacts on subsequent bids. It suggests that a rounded figure (£200) implies a lack of precision in the pricing and that a buyer is more willing to move away from this figure in bigger increments than if a precise figure is used (£198.50). Or indeed £202.50 if you're a real businessman. The precise figure seems to be more believable as a "value anchor" for the item. Obviously, in the high street retail environment we don't (normally) try to negotiate a new price but there are lessons to be learnt when, for example, submitting a proposal/quote. A specific, precise figure will reduce the likelihood and extent of any negotiating down in the price.

I've always thought that the £9.99 type pricing so popular in shops was a legacy of the old cash-till days where owners chose those prices to reduce the opportunity for theft by shop assistants. Theory being that in order to give change to the buyer the till would have to be opened and correct figures inputted. If it was £10 the assistant could not input the money and the customer would be unaware and indeed unconcerned at what had occurred.

Nothing like being able to trust your employees!

Where's Wally? And when can we see him?

Interesting concept and great fun at the same time. A Canadian artist has drawn a 55ft image of Wally (Waldo if you're North American) on a rooftop in Vancouver. It will be visible via Google Earth once Vancouver has next been passed over by Google's imaging eqpt. You need to know the location and you need to wait for anything up to 3 years to find it.

All the details are at her Waldo blog.

I'm sure a Marketing Dept could adapt this concept and use the amazing service offered by Google Earth for other fun activities.