It’s not all about you Gary

Creativity and innovation isn’t about what Gary or any of your other colleagues does or doesn’t like.

Have you ever been at an ideas workshop or even in a general chat about a new idea for a product or a service, and someone (let’s call them Gary for the purpose of this blog) says ‘Well I wouldn’t do that’.? Or ‘I think that’s a really good idea I’d do that, let’s do it’? 

The thing is, it’s not all about you Gary.

I’ve seen this happen many times. Organisations wasting a lot of time and energy because an idea has appealed to someone or a group of people internally. Or an idea with potential written off or not fully explored because it didn’t capture the imagination of the internal team.

Creativity and innovation isn’t about what Gary or any of your other colleagues does or doesn’t like. Creativity and innovation is about solving problems or meeting an unmet need for a specific audience.

It can be very hard to leave our personal views, beliefs, bias, assumptions and opinions at the door, but when it comes to creativity and innovation if we can turn our focus to our target audience we are much more likely to develop ideas that turn into products and services that meet their needs. If we can forget about ourselves, we are more likely to be successful at innovation.

That’s why it’s important to understand as much as you possibly can about your audience before embarking on generating ideas to help them. What do they care about, why do they support your cause or buy your products?

Then you generate ideas that solve the problem for the audience. What can you do to make their life better, easier or more enjoyable?

At one charity I used to work for, we had an empty chair in every meeting. It was the donors’ chair. It was a physical reminder of who the meeting was about – in this case the donor. It served as a useful reminder of the donors needs and to sense check that we hadn’t got carried away with what we liked or didn’t like. You might do the same with your audience; whether they’re donors, customers, volunteers, beneficiaries’, stakeholders or colleagues. Have a visual reminder in a meeting to make sure that the discussion is about your audience – not what Gary likes or doesn’t like.

When you’re clear on who your audience is and what they need it can help you to say no to some of the ideas that won’t help them. For example, when Gary is dead set on an idea because he loves it, if you can help Gary understand that whilst his enthusiasm is great, that he is not the target audience and so him liking it isn’t relevant.

What if Gary’s a HiPPO?

If Gary is a HiPPO it’s even more important to be really clear on the target audience and the problems you are solving for them because when HiPPOs get behind an idea it’s more likely to gather energy and momentum and before you know it its flopped into the world. And remember that HiPPO’s always go last. 

So if you want to up the odds that your new ideas and innovations succeed, start with really digging deep to understand as much as you can about your audience and the problems that they have that you could be a part of solving.

And remember it’s not all about you Gary. (unless your audience is Gary)

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