What do you do with an idea?
I was working with a fine group of nonprofit organizations in the Tampa, Florida region last week in a program of United Way Suncoast and read a few pages from Kobi Yamada’s What do you do with an idea? My Results1st partner Robyn and I were stressing how critical it was to see the world through the eyes of participants and this book that my wife, Pam, gave me was right on point.
Here are the first few pages and then some thoughts. Please take your time as the pictures of the child speaking are not here to enrich the words.
“One day, I had an idea.”
“Where did it come from? Why is it here?”
I wondered “What do you do with an idea?”
At first, I didn’t think much of it. It seemed kind of strange
and fragile. I didn’t know what to do with it. So I just walked
away from it.
I acted like it didn’t belong to me.”
My first thought is that you could read an erudite volume or two to understand innovation. Or you could read this book and learn the essence in ten minutes. And you would get something else through the transparency of a child: an explanation for why fresh ideas that are the lifeblood of change seldom take root. This book is listed as for children aged 5-8. It is even better for people 20—100.
First, note the question asked: What do you do with an idea? What really happens? Too often we jump to what can you do and lose sight of the fact that seldom do we do anything.
Second, the lack of immediate utility dooms many new ideas. Since the child could not think of a use for the idea, he walked away. I can relate. Show me how to apply something or I check out quickly. This is such a great reminder to pause to ponder when you come across an idea new to you. Take your time figuring out its value.
Third, the connection of the sentiments in the book to organizational behavior is very strong. Its passages foreshadow what adults do when divergent thoughts surface in organizations.
Consider the last line quoted above. I acted like it didn’t belong to me.” Ideas need owners. They are not self-driving.
But wait…the story ends well. To see how and why, get the book, What Do You Do with an Idea? It is $8.99 on Amazon. About the best money you can spend for self enlightenment.