Brainstorming and Innovation – Not Really Working Anymore

Well, I have a pretty large personal library with more than 3 dozen books on innovation. It’s amazing how they all read about the same and all have nearly the same advice, especially when it comes to the ‘art of brainstorming’. Still, due to all the new social norms being taught in college these days, where every question asked of a professor, no matter how stupid, is met with; “Great question,” and then followed by the nauseating improper English; “okay so… ” followed by a regurgitated answer – it’s causing the same nonsense in brainstorming sessions.

The only chance today of a brainstorming session coming up with a brilliant original solution would be to have someone in the group who is already a creative genius who can speak up, defend their concept against politically correct and status quo bias and personally persuade the group to yield to their idea. Still, this type of person is a true ‘Thought Leader’ and a legitimate thought leader hardly needs a brainstorming group or any group for that matter in the first place.

Brainstorming isn’t working anymore for innovation, and you can get better creativity from a YouTube Cat Video these days. Corporate R&D Departments aren’t producing much either considering the huge sums of money they spend on the innovative process. Those who predict the future so they can see into the looking glass aren’t much better using their methodologies.

Innovation for the Future and Future Prediction

Let’s take the Futurists of the World Future Society (WFS) as an interesting case study. The WFS has seminars to teach you how to think like a Futurist, symposiums with special emphasis on trend projections and innovation. Isn’t it interesting how all the members of the WFS are always on the same page, and how their predictions are nearly always incorrect (90% of the time)? Why is this? Maybe it’s because when you teach people to think a certain way, they lose the creative edge or ability to do high-level original thought, as you are confine their thought process to logical thinkin?g (left brain thinking) when the students who wish to focus on innovation need to be both left and right brain thinkers.

How are we going to get back to an America that is robust in original thinking and overflowing with new ideas – a nation that is so innovative that we can’t even hold back the rapid changes of our society and civilization? How can we lead the world into the future if we can’t even innovate our way out of plastic bags? Please consider all this and think on it.

An Old-School Thank You Is Still a Brilliant Move

Want to know one of the best ways to get someone’s attention?

Send them a thank you–in the mail.

My team and I are always saying “thank you” in our business. In fact, one of the most successful activities we have done as it relates to business development is to send an initial email about the work we do and if people click into the links for more information, we follow-up with a thank you.

Human nature is often consistent, and the fact of the matter is that people appreciate being thanked for taking a few moments of their time to do what you want them to do.

Old-School Magic

Recently, we were in a meeting with a client with one of our clients in our marketing division, and we spoke about another technique that we use. A thank you in the mail with the personal touch. I’ve written about this in the past, but it works–well–and yet in the digital age, so many people hear that this is an excellent way to communicate with older audiences above the age of 40, which is almost like magic, but they never try it out for themselves.

Job Interview Follow-up

I know that Millennials seem to think that putting pen to paper is one of the worst things they can do; it’s like going to the dentist. Maybe even worse! But, not too long ago, I heard about a Millennial that interviewed with a manager that was in his 50′s. Like any smart interviewee, he knew that he had to follow-up on an excellent interview with an acknowledgment. But, he didn’t send the email as we expect in today’s day and age.

Instead, he penned a note into a professional card and then walked it over to the UPS office and sent it for overnight delivery. The manager received the personalized note card and not too long after–the candidate got the job.

Why did he get the job, aside from the fact that he was a talented candidate?

He got the job, it turns out, when the manager told him later when he was working on staff, that the manager appreciated the receipt of the personalized card. The candidate edged out other talented and qualified candidates because he went a step further and did it creatively.

It demonstrated the job candidate was serious about the job.
The personalized note, which was taken to UPS, set the candidate apart from the rest and showed the manager he was willing to go the extra mile.
Finally, and very importantly, Generation X grew up receiving mail from the postman–not emails. So, the manager told the candidate he hired that it demonstrated he understood what resonated with him. And, since the job was in sales, the candidate proved that he was willing to understand what motivated the other person, and not limit himself to what he preferred.

Biggest Mistake Millennials & Gen Z Make in Business

I’m going to call out Millennials and Generation Z in this article because there is something that I’ve noticed. It’s not limited to their generation and others before them have done it. I’ve seen that often the “thank you” is lost; forget about a note in the post. I can’t tell you the number of times candidates come and meet with my managers and don’t bother to follow-up in any way. It’s such a small act that can make a big difference and it always surprises me that this straightforward thing is often overlooked.

Not too long ago, a successful business professional who was networked to money people happened to meet someone who impressed her. The young Millennial was creating a new business, and the successful professional was fascinated by the young entrepreneur’s platform for university students. The young entrepreneur sensed the senior professional’s excitement and asked for two to three contacts that she could be introduced to and who might consider investing in her business.

After that day, within a few hours, the young Millennial sent the senior executive a quick text. This was the extent of it, “Looking forward to meeting the two people you’d say you’d introduce me to!”

That was it.

The senior professional waited, expecting to hear a simple thank you. One day, two days, a week passed, and there was no other message from the young entrepreneur. The senior professional never did introduce the Millennial business owner.

Why?

The young professional had not mastered the art of a thank you, not to mention going above and beyond with a personalized note, and that didn’t impress the older (and networked) professional. Not in the slightest.

The best business professionals understand that success in business comes with relationship building. Always close with a “thank you,” and if you want to be successful with older professionals, try a little old-school thank you magic if that’s who you happen to be talking to and want to impress.