Great ideas have gained near mythological status in the modern age. We see so many ‘disrupters and innovators’ that we have bought into a belief that ‘one big idea’ is the solution, when the truth is far less sensational. Each day individuals bring their ideas to work with them and use them to create meaningful change. From new services or products to money-saving tactics and smart processes, these ‘small but many’ ideas hustle businesses collectively towards the future. Yet ideation is a skilled artform and can feel intangible to many. Why can we not simply ‘manufacture’ great ideas?
“Working with the future means looking at how many ideas are being created” says Liselotte Lyngsø, a Futurist, one-woman ideas machine and the founder of Future Navigator. It’s her business to be visionary and have a close eye on trends that might be so far on the horizon that the rest of us would have to squint to see them. Liselotte believes in the transformative power of ideas and, moreover, she believes that the more ideas there are in the world, the faster the future will arrive. For her, ideas are there for the taking, simply by observing shifts and developments in science and technology. Speaking at Canon’s VIP customer event, MAKE IT ‘22 in Munich last month, she ran through what it takes to be a ‘future spotter’, and the sources of ideas that can keep you one step ahead.
Look beyond you
We can all be guilty of limiting our world view to just the things that immediately affect us, but to be future-ready we must be expansive in the information we absorb. “Look at the things that are happening, changing the way we live and prioritise,” says Liselotte. “And even though these are difficult times, all these things are actually accelerators of the future.” From the big voices on social media (“TikTok Warriors around the world”) to the new and inventive ways that cybercriminals are operating, these, these and many more happenings will impact the way we live and work in the future. So, ignore them at your peril.
If you’re looking for a mantra, then Liselotte’s “you can't spark the future on your own” is about as good as it gets. The very best ideas come when we work together because when we do, good things – and great ideas – happen. However, you must always be aware of the echo chamber, where everyone simply revisits and reinforces the same ideas over and over. To avoid this, it’s a good idea to mix things up a little. In The Medici Effect, Frans Johannson explains that the best ideas and innovations come when different industries and cultures collide. “Diversity is a well-documented pathway to unlocking new opportunities, overcoming new challenges and gaining new insights,” he explains. Bring in fresh voices from across your organisation and open yourself up to networking opportunities, as well as working closely with the people you trust the most.
Let one idea lead to another
When you allow ideas to roam, they quickly find friends. Liselotte gives the example of how one idea can quickly lead to big benefits elsewhere. “If you take your bike to work, you save money. But you also produce less pollution. It improves your health and saves money on healthcare. Your mood may improve, so you arrive at work with a smile and maybe some great ideas.” This single good idea has so many knock-on effects that can also be capitalised on. And this chain of positivity can happen anywhere. For example, you may need to choose between two business machines. One is a direct replacement, the other has additional capability, but in an area you’ve not previously considered. Going down route two could result in an entirely new revenue stream, new hires, new expertise, new customers, expansion…and so on. It could ultimately attract people who produce even more great new ideas.
Use your imagination
“That's probably what I love most about being a futurist,” admits Liselotte. “You have to use the power of your imagination and then ask what we are going to use the ideas for.” The wonder of the human imagination is that it is only limited by the information you absorb. So, in experiencing life, reading widely, listening carefully and keeping your mind open, you are fuelling your imagination engine. “Then you just go into this space of curiosity, where you experiment and try the things out,” adds Liselotte. “Wander and stay in this wandering situation for a little while. Then, of course, make up your mind.”
For more insights and fresh perspectives on production print and how you can create even more value for your customers in a changed world, visit the MAKE IT ’22 Hub for highlights and recordings.