What ever happens to those crazy post-it-notes ideas you generate during ideation workshops?

Reading the brilliant cartoon from Tom Fishburne titled “innovation dreamers, realists and spoilers” it reminded me of many “innovation sessions” that companies run these days – you know the ones where everyone takes a post-it-note with an idea and puts it on a wall or a window. This method of ideation is also heavily used in design thinking which has become a fad in many large companies.

From where I sit as the Practical Futurist, as the person hired in to run these workshops, or to provide an inspirational keynote to get the creative juices flowing, I always see the excitement and ideas flow from head to pen and then post-it-note but I wonder what happens to them next.

Tom’s cartoon helpfully lets us see that many of these ideas are simply filtered on the spot into either

“tried it before”
“Yes, but …”
“Too Risky”
“If it was a good idea someone would already be doing it”.

Clay Christensen wrote in the HBR in 1985 about disruptive innovation and warned that:

“Managers must beware of ignoring new technologies that don’t initially meet the needs of their mainstream customers”

and

“Incumbents have a blind spot toward disruption”

It worries me that many of these good ideas are not evaluated because large organisations are paralysed with the fear of the unknown. Digital Disruption however does not wait. Perhaps there needs to be a fresh look at how those crazy ideas are evaluated, and put into play in a more dynamic and agile way.

What happens to the crazy post-it ideas at your company?

Photo by G. Crescoli on Unsplash

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