‘I don’t seem to be able to get traction’, said Susan, an aspiring entrepreneur as we discussed how she could get her new business idea up and running. ‘I get distracted by other ideas and can’t seem to settle on one to see it through.’ I was facilitating a retreat in Bali for leaders, which I hold a couple of times a year for female executives. Some were CEOs, others small business owners; some were between career choices and others directors or entrepreneurs. Each had arrived stressed out from the demands of life and work, to spend uninterrupted time with an idea for a new project or business they wanted to create.

Natalie Turner

Natalie Turner

It is one thing to have an idea and vision; it is another to make it happen, and that light bulb moment is only just the beginning. There are actually six stages that an idea goes through before it actually creates value. What I call the 6 ‘I’s® of Innovation.

Here are my top tips for each stage of the journey.

Begin with PURPOSE. What are you trying to do and why?

  1.  Identify: This requires curiosity. Ask questions. Learn and unlearn. Look for a new opportunity to do something new.
  2.  Ignite: Creating innovative solutions requires a creative mindset. Spark a new idea. Is your idea related to an identified opportunity or will it help to solve a problem?
  3.  Investigate: Test and research your idea to see if they will work. Think critically, is it useful, not just novel? Does it fit your PURPOSE?
  4.  Invest: Be courageous and make a decision. Take a small, or big, step to move the idea from a thought to something tangible.
  5.  Implement:  Breathing life into an idea and making it happen is what makes it real. Be committed. Take action. Partnerships are key, especially if you don’t have the capability to do it on your own.
  6.  Improve: This requires a clever mindset, the ability to see where you can make something even better than it is. Learn from your mistakes and celebrate success.

Susan’s skill set was high on IGNITE, she had a hundred ideas before breakfast. Whilst strength is a great asset, if it is overplayed, as it was in her case, it can lead to frustration and chaos. Helping her to identify how she could become more aware of when she was doing this, as well as build partnerships with people who had strengths in the other stages, gave her a new sense of direction and purpose. She not only left the retreat feeling refreshed, she had a practical plan to help her idea get off the ground.

Published in Female First on March 14, 2018.