Thursday, July 26, 2007

Become an idea collector

Have you ever gotten a really great idea – one that you knew would solve a problem, but when you went to apply it, you couldn’t remember the idea? Have you ever read a book and then six months later needed some information or an idea from it, but can’t recall which book or exactly what the concept was?
I’ve found that people collect just about anything from McDonald’s Happy Meal toys to rare coins to cars. Ebay was founded because the creator wanted to make it easier to buy and sell collectable Pez dispensers.
While I collect tractors, both life size antique tractors and toys, I also collect something much more applicable to my personal and professional growth. I collect ideas.
Ideas are the lifeblood of improvement in any area of our life. But we can’t always implement the ideas we get the minute we get them – and sometimes these strokes of genius get misplaced or lost in our minds

Idea Collection Strategies
Here are seven strategies to collect your ideas for use when you need them most.
Write them down! I carry note cards so I can jot down an idea anytime. I write ideas on a flip chart or a whiteboard. I know that ideas are fleeting, so I get them down.
Make lists. Do specific brainstorming on a topic, project or program to boost your collection. Capture all of the ideas. When doing this personally, I don’t cross any off when I find them impractical. By leaving them on my list I have the chance to spur other ideas when I reread or review the list.
Hold a meeting. Every Friday in our office we have a learning and idea meeting where we review the key concepts we have read and the ideas we have generated for the week. By having a scheduled meeting we generate more ideas that may have application to our work, but it also keeps us focused on generating or finding great ideas.
Keep notes from reading. When reading any book (especially non-fiction) capture ideas you get when reading. Jot notes in the margins, use your highlighter. Then go back and transfer the gems to your journal. That extra effort will exponentially increase the value you receive from reading the book.
Keep notes in meetings. When I am in meetings or a participant in a training session, I am always searching for ideas. This keeps my mind sharp. I continually ask, “How could I use this?” and put those ideas in my notes. I always draw a little light bulb on the page to help me separate out the ideas from the notes. I also find this process keeps me more focused on the meeting or training as I know I haven’t lost the idea and I can stay more focused on the topic at hand.
Refer back to them. Review your idea lists. You never know when one of those ideas you wrote down will have application. This is one of the reasons for collecting them in the first place!
Take action. The collection becomes valuable to the degree that you try some of your ideas out. Set a timeline, make a plan, and try something out! It is with this final step that your ideas truly become valuable to you.

opyright 2007 All Rights Reserved, Kevin Eikenberry and The Kevin Eikenberry Group. Kevin is Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group (, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services.
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Published on 5/16/2007

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