Monday, June 11, 2007

Results from the Boise Idea Market

On Friday night I attended the Boise Idea Market, an event I announced on this blog last week.

It was a very exciting event and normally I would rush home to blog about something like this to document my ideas, but I decided to do something different and let it simmer over the weekend as I reflected on the evening.

There were some familiar faces and some new people I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time. The basic premise of the event was to gather folks in a room and have each of them mingle and network all the while posting their thoughts and ideas to questions posed on large pieces of paper tacked to the wall. With a Sharpie in hand I added my two cents to most of the questions along with rest of the audience. Later, the comments were aggregated down to a few central themes where the attendees then self-segregated themselves into groups that they felt could further explore a theme at hand. Mine just happened to be, "What kind of events do we need in the Boise business community?"

I won't go into detail on what the outcomes were, you can read some of them here for yourself. I will tell you that the experience left me feeling very optimistic about the future of business in the Treasure Valley. We have a lot of bright, talented people among us and as long as we get together, like we did Friday night, on a regular basis the possibilities are endless. New products and services could be born. Business problems tackled and courses of action established in a single night. The list could go on and on!

An idea market is simple tool any independent business professional or consultant can replicate and include in their own consulting toolkit. Just organize a group of people with diverse backgrounds and experience, form a number of questions you would like to get answers to and give folks permission to be creative and say whatever is on their minds. Then, compile the results from the first session to uncover some central themes. Post those themes and encourage folks to get into groups to tackle a theme they think they could contribute to the best. This could be done in the span of two hours and the results can be surprising.

From my own personal observations, here how I think an idea market can solve a business problem(s):

  1. Break down barriers and filters we often put in place to support processes, but really end up stifling innovation and problem solving.
  2. Create breakthroughs on tough business problems that were once thought difficult by using unconventional means to arrive at a solution or ideas to reach a solution.
  3. Ownership of the solution or the process to reach a solution.

The last point, I think, is key. Because people actively participate in the process to find a solution, they are empowered and take responsibility for the actions toward a solution. As consultants, I know we would like it if our clients would use our knowledge, skills and expertise on a regular basis, but I think it means more if we know the solutions we prescribe (or help prescribe) are used as intended, the client takes pride in what they accomplish and that our services are eventually no longer needed. It's a sense of accomplishment, not only on the consultants' part, but on the part of the client. All of which can be accomplish through a handy tool called an idea market.

1 comment:

Patrick Lee said...

Since I couldn't make it to the inaugural Idea Market, let's schedule another one soon. I like what I'm reading about what went on there.