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Shiny Balloons

The June issue of Inc. is a treasure trove of inspiration and practical advice on the subject of innovation and I’ve been scarfing it up like Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch (infantile guilty pleasure, won’t let my son eat it but it’s okay for me apparently…) Big part of my job is overseeing our agency’s Strategy and Innovation team whose primary function is to be a non-stop idea factory. That probably sounds more lightweight a purpose than in fact it is — the idea is to support the 100+ account team staffers we work with to bring non-stop creativity and strategic thinking to their PR planning and execution.  Easy, right?

I wish.  I’m learning that the most brilliantly creative idea in the world doesn’t get you diddly — certainly not the affection of your co-workers who rely on the consistent output of your “idea factory” — unless you can wrestle it to the ground and refine it into something that can be translated into tactics and presented credibly to a client.

So I read with great interest the terrific article co-authored by P&G’s A.G. Lafley* and Ram Charan about scaling P&G’s sophisticated and disciplined innovation approach for smaller companies. It’s a genius piece because it doesn’t talk about innovation in the abstract, it tells you in gnat’s-ass detail how to practice it and build it into your culture.  For example, how to add substance and shape to those ideas that “have the brightness and weight of balloons, [but] lacking ballast…will tend to drift off into the ether.”

Oy, have I seen too many damned shiny idea balloons drift off into the ether.  This article gives me new resolve, and will help you too if you are in the business of translating inspiration into action.

*DeVries client alert

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