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Everybody wants them. They fuel business and government and medicine and every other endeavor every day. Good ideas are at the heart of what keeps us moving ahead and the magic of those ideas is sought by everyone. How many meetings have you attended where the question was asked, “Who has a good idea to solve this problem we’re facing?” So, wouldn’t it be great if we could put our finger on where good ideas come from? Let’s take a two-minute journey in search of those illusive gems.

In the movie “Night Shift” the character Michael Keaton plays has a famous line: “I’m an idea man.” He claims to be such a fount of ideas that he has to carry around a tape recorder with him to capture them all. (I feel the need to explain, at this point, that this movie was set before smart phones, but I find this situation comes up so often I think we should have a shorthand way to reference it, like BSP? What can I say, I’m an idea man!)

Anyway, some people really are more creative than others. Their brains just naturally seem to go in a direction that spills out ideas on a regular basis. They look at a situation the rest of us see and they just naturally find a new approach or direction. The cautionary tale here is that person may not always be good at taking that idea and turning it into something that works. (See “Night Shift” plot line.)

For the rest of us, there still is a regular need for good ideas. My hope is to offer thoughts on how anyone can do a better job of tapping into those gems when you need them and remind you about the most important element of any good idea.

Know your strengths and do the same for your team. If you are a leader or just starting your way up the career ladder, your ability to spot an “Idea Person” can be almost as important as the skill it takes to come up with those ideas. Decide now to always be on the lookout for these rare creatures and find a way for them to use their skill effectively. Because the creative person can be seen as not process driven, they can be unnecessarily sidelined, which can be a loss for everyone involved. Finally, when you find that “Idea Person” who can ALSO execute, you have a huge asset in your presence. Appreciate that person, pay them and keep them on the team as long as you can.

Where can you clear your mind? We all can come up with a good idea from time to time, so how do we get there more often? My number one suggestion is figuring out how you can clear your mind and allow the creative process to take over. In may be in the shower or while performing a “mindless” task that you find good ideas reveal themselves. When is it for you? Go there more often if you are in regular need of good ideas.

It’s only a good idea if you can explain it! You or someone on your team can have the best idea possible, but none of that makes any difference if you can’t explain it to anyone else! See this as a two-step process. Good ideas? Great. Step two? Let’s make sure we can explain our good ideas to anyone else who needs to know about them.