Options Matter More Than You Think

Posted on by in Branding/Differentiation, Business, Creativity/Innovation, Design, Leadership, Planning, Remarkability, Strategy

If you’re like most people, and you come up with a couple of ideas about how to make something you’re working on more remarkable or creative, chances are you run with your first or second idea.  Which is probably a bad idea.  Why?  Because your first few ideas are almost always top of the head, ordinary ideas.  They’re the way you normally think about how to solve something. And those ordinary ideas just may be what’s holding you back from accelerating your growth.

This past week, in the Business Week Small Biz Edition (Feb/Mar 2007), Doug Hall shared the results of a fascinating study his company, Eureka! Ranch, did on the number of choices that small and medium sized businesses used to determine their growth strategies.  They divided their sample size of 96 companies into three groups and found that those that had MORE CHOICES for growth  grew 5.8 times faster than those with fewer choices.

Now, in case you missed that, the companies that had fewer options for growth grew an average of 4.5% over three years, while the companies that had the most options, grew an average of 26% over the same time period (i.e. which could easily translate into serious money for your company or organization). 

This is one of the reasons why the Make it Remarkable process is so incredibly important to your success.  If you take the first three steps,

1. Ask Questions Like Picasso (i.e. "How can we do this differently?")
2. Do Research Like DaVinci (i.e. "What ideas do others have?")
3. Generate Options Like Edison (i.e. the point of today’s RC)

then you can see that all three of the first three steps of the Make it Remarkable process are designed to push you toward more options.  And more options means better choices.  And those better choices translate into a growth rate 5.8 times greater than if you’re content with just a few options.

Clearly, there are a number of ways to break through the limitations of a few ideas, but the simplest and easiest idea of all is to pick a number (for example, 10, 20 or 30) and then refuse to stop coming up with ideas until you hit that number. Your first idea may be your best idea.  But the odds are not in your favor.  Chances are, option number 17 or 32 will be award winning.

Ordinary ideas are not remarkable.  If you want to accelerate your success, it’s worth the time to force yourself to think differently–and that almost always requires that you generate a significant number of ideas.

So, take one of your current marketing or growth challenges (or any other problem you’re trying to solve or opportunity that you’re trying to take advantage of).  Take out a piece of paper.  Write down one to ten down the left-hand side of the paper.  Then give yourself fifteen or thirty minutes to generate a minimum of ten ideas (more is better). And keep doing this until it becomes a way of life (from what to cook for dinner to where to go on vacation, and from how to penetrate a new market to how to raise morale).  You’ll be glad you did.

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