May 21, 2006
Liz published this at 11:45 am
When I compiled this list of ten critical skills, it was an original list — the list came from my head not from the Internet, not from some book. I’ve done continuous work on thinking skills for years so it wasn’t a huge hardship to think some more on the skills I consider critical. Is any one idea original? No. Not one on that list is unique or spectacular. The value-added is that I put them together and pointed the need to have them for success.
Originality Versus Spectacular
Originality is often how we look at things. The most original thought I’ve encountered — that hasn’t been around for years — was my six-year-old son’s drawing of the solar system as if he were standing on Pluto, looking in toward the sun. Even that was just a new take on a picture that’s been around for a long, long time.
True originality –a brand new idea — is hard to come by, but that’s okay. It rarely works in business. True originality is expensive and rarely sells. As good as I am with ideas I’ve learned if I find one that has been done before, tha it’s because of one of three reasons.
It’s incredibly hard to execute.
It’s incredibly expensive.
Nobody wants to buy it.
Never been done before is a really bad idea.
Business Needs Spectacular
Business doesn’t need or want “never been done before” originality. What business needs is value-added, real WOW ideas — what you’ve always wished and dreamed for — spectacular ideas. Spectacular ideas live in the details. They aren’t found by looking at what people are buying now. They aren’t found adding bells and whistles. They are spectaular because they are fresh, new, and something I yearn for, but haven’t realized yet that I even want it.
Martin defined business orignality with simple elegance. I wrote a post about the conversation in which he did that, it’s called Stop. Listen. Hear that Idea? He described why Steve’s blog idea is fresh and original — a winner, a WOW idea.
What makes a spectacular idea that a business can use — one that people — folks like Martin — notice and find valuable, how do you get that valued-added WOW factor?
The 3 Parts of a Spectacular Idea
A spectacular idea has three basic parts or traits that make it stand out from all others. Check these out.
- Spectacular ideas address the practical and the emotional simultaneously. They appeal to the child and the adult in us. They feel good and they make sense at the same time. They are Frosted Mini-Wheats — sugar on one side and fiber on the other.
I bought my Toyota MR-2 Spyder for many reasons. It was a great value. It has its flaws — 1.9 cubic feet of storage space. The WOW is the faux titanium door handles. No other car has them, not any Porsche, Ferrari, BMW two-seater. I know. I look inside every one I see. They all look boring to me. Those door handles make my car look like it cost 3 times what it cost me. It will also allow me to resell it much higher. They were a spectacular idea.
- Spectacular ideas are in the details, not in giant bells and whistles. Every car has an engine and four wheels. Trying to improve on those gets you into trying to be original on something that has been tested through decades of history. Original, spectacular ideas come in the back and the side doors. They approach things from the inside out. They make something work better, feel softer, stop being an irritant. Good ideas are original and spectacular when they are unexpected.
When I asked the man at the desk at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago where the Ladies Room was, he said, “Follow me.” Then he came out from behind the desk and escorted me almost all of the way. Part way there, he stopped and apologized for being too far ahead of me. He didn’t take me so close that I felt uncomfortable. He treated me like a person.
His effort was practical because the directions would have been complicated. It was emotional because I felt important. It was totally unexpected. It was spectacular customer service.
- Spectacular ideas are authentic. Spectacular ideas can’t be knocked off with the same effect, because they came from customer-centered thinking. In other words, they combine the head and the heart of an other-focused, idea person.
Throughout my publishing career and now Successful Blog, people point out to me folks who are copying my ideas. I’m happy to share exactly what and why I do what I do. You can’t copyright an idea. Folks who are good at what they do will internalize what they see and make their own version, something that has a twist that makes us both look better. The folks who try to do exactly what I did will make a bad copy . . . They’re bound to miss by a little bit because well, they’re just not me, and they’re not being themselves either. Whatever they make will be missing the intangible part that makes the idea authentic and real.
I ‘ve had the luck to be part of some really spectacular ideas. To me, there’s not much that’s more fun. Tell me about some spectacular ideas that you’ve had the chance to be part of.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
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Critical Skill 5B: Sparking Spectacular Ideas
The 10 Skills Most Critical to Your Future
Critical Skill 1: Strategic Deep Thinking
Critical Skill 2: Mental Flexibility
Critical Skill 3: Fluency: with Ideas
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