What’s the cost of a missed idea?

You and I are in the idea production business.

Sure, we may not carry a job title with the word “idea” in it, but if we peel away all of the specialties of what we do, we’ll find that most of us are in the business of formulating and acting on ideas—either ours or others. The better ideas we have or act on, the more successful we’ll be.

What's the cost of a missed idea?

Early in my career, when I was making the shift from being a technical contributor into management, I remember being told in a management training class that I had to rethink the value of my new role. No longer should I go home and say my day was wasted, spent in meetings. If you’re a manager, that’s what you do. And if you want to save 10% on car insurance… (Sorry. Squirrel moment. Back to my point.) Managers lead meetings; hopefully effectively and efficiently.

The instructor further illustrated his point that the value of a role changes as you move up the ladder. At the top, he said, a CEO can go home proudly announcing to his family, I had a good day today. I had an idea, because that idea can reshape a company or even an industry. That’s leverage on time well spent.

To be sure, not all ideas emanate from the top. Nevertheless, I’ve never forgotten the lesson. Ideas are value creators.

At the end of many days, I’ve often asked myself, “What ideas did I have today?” Sometimes I think about the ones that got away—that I never made time to cultivate. And I wonder about the lost value.

What is the cost of a missed idea? What opportunities might you and I have had to create something really exceptional if we weren’t so deep in the weeds elsewhere? Or if we had set better boundaries to keep from being overloaded? Or if we were more intentional to guard time to think creatively, rather than reacting impulsively to the next squeaky wheel?

No, I’ve not forgotten that formative lessen. Ideas are my job. And, personally, I don’t ever want to shut down my idea factory. That’s why several years ago, when it seemed that my idea factory was stressed under the weight of my many ventures, I had an idea.

What if, instead of dumping activities to get my idea factory back online, I remapped my entire work process instead? What if I got more intentional to rework how I work? What if I designed my work life with creative time built in, from the ground up?

Out of that redesign, after many hours of research on productivity and cognitive science, I created a new structure and a way of customizing an approach I now call the Strategic Margin Workshop. On November 11th, I’ll be leading the final workshop this year at the Minnesota Valley Country Club in Bloomington, MN and I invite you to be a part of it. I’ll be sharing practical tools that you can use to improve how you think about and manage your business and personal life. And, as a reader of this blog, you will receive a $100 discount off the registration by using the promo code: “LG16”

Comment below: What steps do you take to keep your idea factory running?

One thought on “What’s the cost of a missed idea?

  1. I guess I’m asking for advice. How do I promote an idea that is critical to my industry that should have been included decades ago? The idea is foundational to the success of my industry.

    I am working on an idea that my industry missed 40-50 years ago. The idea is powerful, the idea is ready, and the timing is terrible. Multiple generations of development have been made without this critical idea to power them. My industry is stagnating without it. I was a child at the time the idea would have best been developed and introduced to the industry.

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