Honestly the whole insurance industry needs more ideas. Not that we all need to share the same ones - we shouldn't, but we need to encourage one another to spend time purposefully thinking about what might be and how we can create that new future. There isn't one answer for everyone. I want to see us all push the boundaries in every direction and for agencies to begin creating independent businesses that look different from agency-to-agency and city-to-city. These types of differences are good for your business and even better for your clients' businesses.
So these ideas – where do they come from?
Well, a large variety of places if you're looking. However, unless you're in the habit of it, ideas don't just come to us on a regular basis. We usually have to start by coaxing them out, which means finding intentional ways to stir up thinking and having purposeful discussions where you have no particular agenda and are relaxed and open to new ideas.
One place ideas find me is when I'm running. Extended periods of adrenaline seem to create extraordinary thinking. I take ideas beyond the boundaries I might otherwise have when there is no adrenaline flowing and no enhanced sense of abilities and confidence. It creates a feeling of possibilities and my mind focuses on solutions rather than dwelling on a problem. I may not have solved the problem at the end of the run, but I've got a good flow of ideas that I can then work with to get me closer to a solution.
Another one of my favorites is discussing things over a beer at the end of the day. The relaxed nature of those winding-down conversations allows the ideas to get bigger and things to seem more possible. If you have nothing standing in between you and your biggest, grandest ideal, you'll start finding ways to make it happen.
Not all the ideas that find me during these fun thinking and problem exploration sessions are worthy of using, but that's the way of idea generation. You have to come up with more than you need so you can sort through to find the best ones for the particular situation. And sometimes this might mean tossing some pretty goofy ideas into the ring for consideration. But that is only going to work when people are open and willing to be a little vulnerable with one another. I like to call these "conversations of possibilities", which means the floor is open, everyone participates, and even the goofy ideas get airtime. When you start your sentences with "What if..." it's hard not to visualize and at least explore the idea a little bit!
With any great idea-generation session, be sure to do some follow up:
- Write down the big ideas in the moment or soon thereafter. Once the energy wears off, often times the ideas fade with it.
- Review the ideas the next day and do a reality check. Are these ideas really feasible? Without the extra boost of confidence are they still doable? Do you have the confidence to pursue them today? What do you need to do to gain that confidence?
Safe is Risky
One thing I see too frequently in the insurance industry is looking to the guy down the street for ideas. That's not being open, innovative, and vulnerable, and consequently, it's not where the best ideas come from. It's taking the "safe" route; and, unfortunately, safe is probably the riskiest place to be. I see too many people making too many safe moves in an effort to hold onto what they have. Sometimes we have to cannibalize our own "best seller" in order to create the new "best seller". But that takes some pretty bold ideas, bold moves, and bold leadership.
We all win with more, bigger, bolder ideas, and execution of those ideas. What bold moves are you going to make this week?
Photo by ieshraq.