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Lucyinnovation's Blog

Lucyinnovation blog has moved house. It now lives at lucyinnovation.co.uk

It’s moved because its been spruced up.

If you follow this blog, and want to keep following, you need to go to lucyinnovation.co.uk and scroll down to Follow Blog by email and sign up again.

I know that’s a pain. I’m sorry its clunky and not very innovative, but I hope you choose to keep reading….

Lucy

@lucyinnovation

Lucy@lucyinnovation.co.uk

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How do you get ideas?

 

ImageIn 1965 James Webb Young published a book called ‘A technique for producing ideas’. It is a small and simple book. This blog is about what it says.

It talks about whether it is possible to identify a standard format for having ideas, so that ideas become a definite process, like an idea assembly line – in the same way that Henry Ford produced his Ford Model T.

Young starts on the premise that an idea is nothing more or less than a new combination of old elements. And that the key to an effective idea process is an individuals’ ability to search for relationships between elements that turn separate unconnected bits of knowledge into something greater.

Young identified a five-step process for having ideas.

1. Gather raw material; this is an on-going process and includes two types of material. Firstly specific material related to the problem you are trying to solve, for example getting under the skin of your supporter and really understanding where the opportunities are for you to add value. Secondly general material, which could relate to anything at all, for example the topics that interest you or you are passionate about. It is the combination of the specific and general material that you then have to opportunity to combine into something new. An example of this is when Steve Jobs dropped out of college. It gave him the opportunity to drop into classes that he was interested in. He attended calligraphy classes that had no practical application at the time, but years later he was able to combine this element when developing the fonts and design of the Apple Macintosh. He talks about this in his 2005 commencement speech.

2. Order and catalogue your thoughts; Young talks about Sherlock Holmes who spend hours indexing and cross-indexing his thoughts in scrapbooks (remember it was 1965). You too could keep a scrap book and there are now also many online tools to gather your raw material in one place, for example Pinterest, your own blog, Slideshare or even Twitter. Then seek relationships; deliberately look for relationships within your gathered raw material. Write your random thoughts down and build on those thoughts. Young describes it as ‘listening for meaning rather than looking’  

3. Incubation; if you are following the process, at this stage you are likely to have a hopeless jumble of random thoughts. This stage is about putting the whole thing out of your mind. Go and do something else, anything else. Something that stimulates your mind and emotions, have a nap, go for a walk, read a novel, go to the movies, go the gym or phone a friend. This is a definite and necessary stage that allows the unconsciousness mind to processes your thoughts.

4. Out of nowhere the idea will appear; according to Young this is the way ideas come, after you have stopped straining for them and have passed through a period of rest and relaxation from the search. The expression ‘sleep on it’ isn’t accidental. It is the process of your subconscious mind processing your thoughts.

5. Shaping and development of the idea; this is the really difficult bit. You have to be brave and put your idea out there.   You have to take your little new born idea out into the world of reality and develop it to fit external constraints. This is where good ideas can easily get lost. However, according to Young, a good idea has self expanding qualities, it stimulates those who see potential to add to it and possibilities in it that you have overlooked will come to light.

So if ideas are a new combination of old elements it is important to gather raw material by constantly expanding your experiences. So get out from behind your desk and experience more. It’s important. 

2012 blogs in review

I love that WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepare an annual report for their bloggers. I love how they bring the stats to life. I less love that the most searched for term is ham and cheese sandwich. Maybe I should write about ham and cheese sandwiches more?

Did you know:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 23,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, lucyinnovation’s blog would power 5 Film Festivals.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Dragonfly Effect – its all wings and analogies

The Dragonfly Effect is a book by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith about ways to use social media to drive social change.

They use the analogy of the wings of a dragonfly as the four essential ingredients in any social media campaign.

It breaks down how to ‘do’ social media to drive change into four ‘wings’.

Wing one; is about focusing focus on a single concrete measurable goal or outcome and then breaking it down into small manageable actions or chunks.

Wing two; is how to grab attention and get noticed amongst all the other noise that we are all bombarded with.

Wing three; is about engaging your audience emotionally through telling stories and making a personal connection.

Wing four; is about how to make it easy for your audience to take action and enable others and the importance of providing fast feedback.

There are some interesting case studies, and they give tips for beginners on using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and building networks. However, I was disappointed with the overall content as it was repetitive and cluttered and I found the number of dragonfly and wing analogies a bit irritating. (The dragonfly analogy is apparently because the dragonfly is the only insect to move in any direction when its four wings are working in concert)

However they make some good basic points, which apply to any activity designed to drive change, that of

  • Focusing on the end goal
  • Grabbing audience attention
  • Engaging with the audience
  • A clear and simple call for action

So my advice is, if you are planning to use social media (or drive any sort of change) to take these principles and get on with testing out your campaigns and messages rather than spending time reading the book.

I’d love to hear about what you are doing and what is working and not working for you on social media right now….

Do you check your mobile when you are on the toilet?

At the Institute of Fundraising Convention last week there was a lot of talk around technology enabled giving (or TEG, yes, we have a delightful new technology enabled acronym) and in particular the use of mobile.

Heralded as the most powerful device ever invented; enabling us to access life’s essentials from money to friends to pizza, our mobile phone is a device which the majority of us do not leave home without.

There were some interesting stats from The Mobile Mindset Study, including;

  • nearly 40% admit to checking their phone while on the toilet. (*and that’s just the people who admit it. Personally I bet its more)
  • 63% of women and 73% of men ages 18-34 say they don’t go an hour without checking their phones.
  • 73% say they felt panicked when they lost their phone
  • 24% said they check their phones while driving.

We also learnt that 80% of the world’s population has access to a mobile phone. In fact globally more people have access to mobile then they do to clean drinking water.

In developing countries most people will only ever access internet on mobile phones (which was somewhat ironic as I didn’t have an internet connection in the conference session) meaning that globally mobile is going to be an increasingly important channel.

In 5 years mobile users will overtake desktop users. (a friend of mine actually had to explain the term ‘desk-top’ to a young person recently, who was baffled at the whole concept of a computer belonging to, or being static on a desk…..)

Mobile has also changed consumer behaviour in that people are constantly connected, and continually juggle and filter information. People have developed continuous partial attention disorders (CPA for acronym fans), a new condition which disables a person from concentrating on one thing for longer than about 10 seconds (in severe cases).

So, given all these stats, it was interesting that in a digital fundraising session when the audience were asked how many websites are mobile responsive one hand went up. And only four people knew how much of their web traffic came from mobile. (Most organisations get 10-15% of their web traffic from mobile and the number is increasing) And only one or two organisations had surveyed their online audience in the last 2 months. (there was significantly more than four people in the room in case you were wondering)

We know fundraising is about building relationships, understanding and connecting supporters to the cause, and making it easy for them to get involved. We also know that almost everyone is carrying the internet in their back pocket; connecting them to the world. Yet it doesn’t seem that we are developing our communications to ensure they are accessible to these growing audiences? Why not?

So to summarise the key messages on mobile fundraising;

  • mobile is becoming more and more important to engage with multiple audiences
  • use of mobile is growing fast
  • make your content is accessible for mobile
  • you cannot pretend that mobile isn’t happening
  • if you can’t help people give on mobile you are missing out

Or perhaps I got a warped view because all the people in the room were not putting their hands up because they were CPA suffers and really stressed out at not being online and connected? Possibly. In a funny way I kind of hope so.

Why we have our best ideas in the shower

This evening I watched the live stream of a RSA talk by Jonah Lehrer about new research that is deepening our understanding of the human imagination.

Not actually being at the RSA in real life was a strange experience, I felt like I was intruding as people arrived and I watched by myself. In silence until the speakers took the stage. It was also a modern-day miracle given my recent service from Virgin Broadband.

The talk was based on Lehrers new book Imagine: How Creativity Works, which explores where creative thoughts originate.

CRAP

No I’m not being rude. CRAP is apparently an acronym for Compound Remote Associates Programmes.

CRAP is like the word puzzles you get in the Sunday paper. Unrelated words are presented and the problem is to find a fourth word that relates to them all, e.g. for the words; pine, crab and sauce  – the solution word is apple.

The study showed that the creative insight that comes before a solution, can be detected in the brain 8 seconds before it arrives. It’s identified by functional resonance imaging and electroencephalography.

In plain English this means that the bit of the brain behind your ear that scientists don’t know huge amount about shows a sharp spike in alpha wave activity. This alpha wave pattern closely resembles that of someone who is in a relaxed state.

Therefore the conclusion is that if you are in a relaxed state (and a good mood too apparently) you are far more likely to develop creative thoughts.

So this is good news. If we can relax more, and spend more time on the activities that relax us; going for a walk, having a bath, taking a break from our desk or having a few beers with friends (A different study showed that undergrads who were too drunk to drive had a 30% higher success rate in solving these sorts of problems… make of that what you will) it will help us be more creative.

The bad news is that for many people it is hard to relax and switch off from the stresses of daily life. Also relaxation alone wont cut it. According to Lehrer to master the elusive skill of creativity we also need grit, serendipity and real life face-to-face interactions.

And to find out more you can see the RSA film of the event here.

Perhaps that explains why so many of us have our best creative ideas in the shower?

I’ve never cried in a hardware store before. Although perhaps you have.

I was in E Hayes & Sons in Invercargill in New Zealand. A strange place to hang out on holiday amidst the natural beauty of New Zealand’s South Island you may think. And you would be right.

But this is why.

On the way to Invercargill I watched a film starring Anthony Hopkins called The Worlds Fastest Indian. It was made in 2005 and based on the true story of Burt Munro and his quest to turn his 1920s Indian Scout motorbike into the fastest motorbike in the world.

Burt was a somewhat eccentric motorcycle fanatic who spent his time tinkering with his motorbike in his shed, making improvements to the engine and bodywork. He would often work through the night choosing his passion for speed over sleep. He improvised with found items rather than ‘proper’ equipment. He would cast parts in old tins and make his own barrels and pistons.

In 1962 he travelled alone to the USA to fulfil his ambition to achieve a worldspeed record at Speed Week on the salt flats at Bonneville, Utah.

His local community, friends and family did not believe that he could do it. Even the local motorcycle club were sceptical about their eccentric neighbour. The only person who did believe in Burt was Thomas, the small boy who lived next door.

Against the odds, Burt and the motorbike arrived in Utah, 8,000 miles away in one piece. Burt charmed officials to let him race despite not registering, being 63 years old, riding the oldest bike in the competition with no apparent regard for his own safety. He had no safety parachute or fire extinguisher. Officially both were required in order to be eligible to race.

Burt broke the world record achieving 179 mph. Burt returned to Bonneville several more times setting more speed records in his lifetime. Burt died on 6 January 1978, aged 78.

“You live more in five minutes on a bike like this going flat-out than some people live in a lifetime” Burt Munro

Burt’s story inspired me because of his passion (for motorcycles) and his single-minded pursuit (of speed) – and his success despite the odds.

It is an enchanting and beautiful story told with love and humour. I fell in love with Burt Munro a bit. So that’s why, when I came across his motorcycle bike and memorial to Burt in a hardware store in Invercargill – it was all a bit emotional.

So if you ever feel in the need of inspiration against the odds, take 90 minutes out of your day-to-day life and watch The Worlds Fastest Indian.