BIG ideas get all the attention by the media, bloggers, journalists and the like because Big ideas, like anything that is coming out of Google X, have the possibility to create waves of change for society.
Businesses that want to call their latest and greatest invention the next best thing should be thoughtful about what it is they are promoting. Though we can all tell BIG from SAME, there is no shortage of entrepreneurs calling their latest venture The New Thing; frankly most of the time it isn’t.
So, to determine whether or not something is really The New Thing we can use the following criteria: it’s new, surprising and radically useful.
The more precise one is about what “innovation means and looks to us”, the more focused the efforts will be and thus the more interesting one becomes. From a business relevance standpoint, beyond the media coverage one gets, thinking and doing big has other benefits as well:
- It gives innovators freedom;
- It removes constraints and spurs creativity;
- It has a greater chance of success by virtue of their size since the company can’t afford to fail;
- It attracts big talent.
As stated previously, organizations that embody the innovation mindset have bold goals, they don’t compromise on their values, and constantly push boundaries to make things radically better. All of which requires brilliance, not dullness.
A recent survey by Inc. asked leaders about the biggest challenge they face and the response was “attracting and retaining skilled employees”. So the last benefit on the list, attracting big talent, is the most important one because there is a symbiotic relationship between big challenges and highly smart, skilled people: the challenges get solved and the people get happy.
I’ve found that a good litmus test to cut out the brilliant from the dull is to find people who embody the following quote: if it’s a sure thing, I’m not interested.
Simple: Give the wrong people a big challenge, and you’ll induce anxiety. But give it to the right people, and you’ll induce joy.
Big challenges also add other benefits for employees, such as new skills, new connections with colleagues in the field, enhanced reputation. Put simply, thinking big is critical for attracting and retaining the very best talent.
Bottom line: As innovators, we need to be challenged. Constantly. The greater the challenge, the more engaged we become. This attitude is necessary because innovations don’t have a clear path to success, it’s a messy process of trial and error. Brilliant people will roll with the punches and figure it out; that is the attitude and mindset you want on your team.