In last week’s blog, we discussed Edison’s careful record keeping as his ideas became inventions. [Please scroll down and check it out if you haven’t read it, yet.]  Today, we have suggestions of how you can begin to do something similar.  It might happen in three stages.

1.  Begin Keeping an Innovation Journal.  (Stage 1) 

Many of us dream a lot—when we’re driving, when we’re in boring conversations or meetings, etc.  Sometimes we wake up with what we think is a revolutionary idea.  Many other times we have good ideas that keep haunting us.  Then time passes, we forget it or don’t do anything about.  Predictably, the impulse passes.

Today your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to begin to keep a creative idea journal.  Use a composition book like Edison and his muckers did, or an electronic gadget you already have, or a simple writing pad.  If you have a place to write your ideas, you’re more likely to do it.  The important thing is to take time regularly, just a few minutes, and write down creative, productive ideas when they come to you.  Typically this will be about how you can improve something at work or in your personal life.    

Or, you might have just thought of a new invention that will change the world.  Who knows what you’ll come up with?  As you know, your ideas will come at convenient or inconvenient times.  In any event, write them down as soon as you can and then read your notes regularly and see what develops.

Keep this up for at least 30 days and you’ll have something of value.  Get you team involved, and you’ll expand it even further.

Once you get this moving, you will want to get your linear, analytical mind involved to help determine if and how to proceed.  This leads to Stages 2 and 3.

2.  Use the Benefits and Resources Tests.  (Stage 2) 

Review your Innovation Journal frequently.  From time to time, select an idea that you think has merit and flesh it out a little.  Analyze the idea and see if it will pass the benefits test:  What benefits would come if I can make this idea work?  Or in other words, would the outcome justify the effort?

If it passes the benefits test, then determine if it will pass the resources test:  What resources do I need to turn this into reality?  And, are the resources available and at reasonable cost?

If you can get your great, new innovative idea past these two tests, then this one is probably ready for Stage 3. 

3.  Do Some Serious Analysis.  (Stage 3). 

In this stage, you begin to consider very carefully the steps necessary turn the idea into a real project.  Make a list of all that needs to be done.  If possible, ask others to look at your idea and the steps you’ve outlined to see if you’ve left anything out. 

After you’ve completed a careful review and you have a first draft you are satisfied with, go back to Stage 2 and review the benefits and resources questions.  If the answers are still positive, go back to Stage 3 and spend more time reviewing the necessary steps.  Continue to loop between Stage 2 and Stage 3 until you’re satisfied that this idea will work and is worth doing.  Once you arrive there, you’re ready to start implementation, sometimes called scaling up.  As you move along, don’t forget to record everything in your muckers’ notebook or your innovation journal.  In a later blog, we’ll discuss some ideas about implementation.  In the meantime, good luck changing the world!