It’s Highly Possible that You’ve Already Had Your Next Best Idea

Most of us attach the word “audit” to “IRS” and the word association isn’t pleasant.

The general definition of an audit is an evaluation of a person, organization, system, process, enterprise, project or product.

The term most commonly refers to audits in accounting, internal auditing, and government auditing, but similar concepts also exist in project management, quality management, water management, and energy conservation. (from Wikipedia)

Debra Kaye, writing in Red Thread Thinking, wants to give new meaning to the word audit by attaching it to your ideas instead of your tax returns.

There’s plenty of information, products, materials, and technology that can be looked at in a fresh way, modified somehow, and used again.

We’ve all experienced deja vu – looking at an unfamiliar situation and feeling – almost knowing – that you’ve seen it before.

It’s time to flip that phrase.

William Taylor, cofounder of Fast Company magazine and author of Practically Radical, writes that it’s time for the best leaders to demonstrate a capacity for vuja de’. It’s looking at a familiar situation (say, being a leader in ChurchWorld for decades, or designing and delivering a weekly worship experience for years) as if you’ve never seen it before, and with that fresh line of sight, developing a distinctive point of view on the future.

You can’t do big things anymore if you are content with doing things a little better than everyone else, or a little differently from how you’ve done them in the past.

It’s time to look at your organization and your calling as if you are seeing them for the first time.

We all have ideas that never went anywhere. It’s time to unearth old notes from previous development projects. Are there innovations or ventures that you started to work on and then abandoned for some reason?

It’s time for an “idea audit” to see what’s in the back of your hard drive, filing cabinet or closet. When you reassess what’s already there you can uncover what’s worth revisiting.

What should you be looking for in an idea audit? Most organizations and innovators have or can find hidden assets in their past ideas and efforts, including:

  • Existing old technologies that have accessible benefits that can be enhanced and revealed to new constituents
  • Underleveraged technologies or products that could be valued in categories that were not previously considered or by new or niche groups of consumers
  • Unreleased products or too quickly discarded product concepts that could be potential winners, but that went astray because the going-in insight or platform wasn’t properly tweaked
  • Undervalued distribution networks that can be reawakened with partners who want to be where you are
  • Consumer perceptions and sluggish brand equity that can be refreshed to awaken new revenue

In short, open your eyes fresh and look anew.

Look at your resources – every false start, tool, prototype, note, gadget, materials, formula, recipe, or report available – from a different perspective.

Maybe it’s even time for a little Vuja De’.

Most artists look for something fresh to paint; frankly I find that quite boring. For me it is much more exciting to find fresh meaning in something familiar. – Andrew Wyeth

inspired by:

 Red Thread Thinking, by Debra Kaye with Karen Kelly

Practically Radical, by William C. Taylor


The Hardest Work There Is

It’s the work of making far-reaching change in long-established organizations.

One of my dream jobs would be a change architect. I’ve been fortunate to be able to practice change in several different venues – from family life to church staff positions to my current consultant role. Each one brings something different to the table, and each one has been instructive for the next one.

As I’ve often said to churches I work with, change is a constant reality. It’s not meant to be an oxymoron, but some would see it that way. Change is a matter of life – biological (while you are reading this tens of thousands of cells have been created in your body) to our physical world (the season of fall is here) to organizational (restructuring, new plans, etc).

We are constantly undergoing transformation in all areas of our existence.  To that end, a few comments from William Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company magazine and author of the book “Practically Radical” are worth repeating.

Five Truths of Organizational Transformation

  1. Most organizations in most fields suffer from a kind of tunnel vision, which makes it hard to envision a more positive future. The first challenge of change is originality – for leaders to see their organization and its problems as if they’ve never seen them before. with new eyes, to develop a distinctive point of view on how to solve them.
  2. Most leaders see things the same way everyone else sees them because they look for ideas in the same places everyone else looks for them. Why do you want to look at your competition and develop benchmarks for comparison? Instead, learn from innovators outside your field as a way to shake things up.
  3. In troubled organizations rich with tradition and success, history can be a curse – and a blessing. The challenge is to break from the past without disavowing it. The most effective leaders don’t disavow the past – they reinterpret what’s come before to develop a line of sight into what comes next.
  4. The job of the change agent is not just to surface high-minded ideas. It is to summon a sense of urgency inside and outside the organization, and to turn that urgency into action. The opposite of urgency is complacency, and complacent individuals, unfortunately, see themselves as behaving quite rationally.
  5. In an environment that never stops changing, change agents can never stop learning. The best leaders, regardless of their field, experience, or personal style, are insatiable learners.

Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.

 – Albert Einstein

If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you’ve every got.

– Unknown Texas Genius

Are you ready to roll up your sleeves for the hard work of change in front of you?

Starting Something New?

The most enduring source of competitive advantage is for emotionally charged employees to capture the imagination of emotionally-drained customers. The opportunity to shake things up is as much about how you behave as what you offer.

5 New Rules for Starting Something New

  1. It’s not good enough to be “pretty good” at everything. Blank-sheet-of-paper innovators figure out how to become the “most” of something
  2. Just because you’re “most of something” doesn’t mean you can’t do lots of things. Being unique is not about being narrow
  3. Long-term success is about more than thinking harder than the competition; it’s also about caring more than the competition
  4. In a world of endless choice, companies must engage customers emotionally, not just satisfy them rationally. Remember, if your customers can live without you, eventually they will
  5. Starting something new doesn’t alway mean starting a new company. You don’t need to be a blank-sheet-of-paper entrepreneur to embrace a blank-sheet-of-paper mindset


– from “Practically Radical,” William Taylor



Put Me In Coach

The challenge for leaders in every field is to emerge from turbulent times with closer connections to their customers, with more energy and creativity from their people, and with greater distance between them and their rivals.

Ten Questions Every Game Changer Must Ask

  1. Do you see opportunities the competition doesn’t?
  2. Do you have new ideas about where to look for new ideas?
  3. Are you the most of anything?
  4. If your organization went out of business tomorrow, who would miss you and why?
  5. Have you figured out how your organization’s history can help to shape its future?
  6. Do you have customers who can’t live without you?
  7. Do your people care more than the competition?
  8. Are you getting the best contributions from the most people?
  9. Are you consistent in your commitment to change?
  10. Are you learning as fast as the world is changing?


– “Practically Radical,” William Taylor

Before you can be a game changer, first, you have to be in the game.