They come to us in the shower. While we’re driving. When we’re on the treadmill. Or when we’re washing dishes, or raking leaves, or waiting for the subway.
They’re ideas, and we have them, all day long. Great ideas and innovations like the light bulb, telephones, cars and planes, computers and penicillin changed lives and history. And sometimes ideas just make a good thing a little better, like wheels on luggage and Starbucks apps on smartphones.
Our recent Global Workforce Symposium, keynoted by business innovator and strategist Gary Hamel, was a hotbed of industry ideas. There truly is something magical that happens when we put our minds together. And that magic doesn’t only happen when we’re in physical proximity – our eDiscussions and Forums are evidence of the way we innovate virtually as well. Hamel has his own distinctive theory on the subject of innovation: “It takes 1,000 ideas to reap 100 that merit more focus. Out of those, about 10 will warrant a stronger commitment, and out of those 10, one or two may turn out to be remarkable successes.”
is a web site that gathers thousands of business ideas, submitted by a network of 8,000 spotters from around the world. Its recent newsletter featured a member-owned supermarket in London; “pop-up” cafes in New York; an open source magazine; Alikewise, a dating system that matches couples based on their literary preferences; and Easiest Give, a site that lets consumers shop online for any participating shelter and have much-needed goods delivered directly to the shelter's door. Will all of these ideas stand the test of time? Maybe, maybe not. But they’re viable now, in this environment.
Popular Science magazine features the latest and coolest ideas, too, like the Bluetooth-enabled cardioscan stethoscope – a new twist on an old instrument - that transmits even the tiniest heart murmurs in real time for highly accurate onscreen diagnosis. The publication annually presents its picks for the most intriguing new products, and has a great way to describe warp-speed innovation. It notes: “The standards by which we judge the year's greatest innovations are simple... they just have to push past what we thought was possible twelve months ago.”
We have some incredible minds in our community, and I know we can push past what we thought was possible even a year ago in our industry. Let’s make the workforce mobility profession more efficient, more effective, more strategic, more contemporary. We might not identify an idea that matches the innovation of the light bulb, but I’m pretty sure we can put some wheels on a few pieces of luggage.