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Newsletter #771: The “Get Great Ideas” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I Thought of That Email Newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

You can never have too many good ideas. How a few smart brands are finding their next big innovations:

1> Ask employees
2> Ask the industry
3> Ask the world
4> Check it out: What the Hashtag?!

1> Ask employees

Some of the best innovations can come from within your own walls. In his TED Talk on the science of motivation, Dan Pink cites Australian software maker Atlassian, which generates ideas through “FedEx Days.” During these events, employees are given 24 hours to work on whatever they want — as long as it has nothing to do with their existing projects. Teams then present their ideas to the company at the end of the FedEx Day, aptly named because they have to deliver something overnight.

The Lesson: Before you spend gigantic dollars on the consulting firm, try getting your team energized and creating fresh ideas with an intense brainstorming session.

Learn More: Dan Pink

2> Ask the industry

Not all big ideas have to originate within your own company. Your industry probably has lots of solo entrepreneurs, research companies, and suppliers constantly introducing new innovations. Procter & Gamble taps into this rich ecosystem with their Innovation Network, inviting everyone from government laboratories to entrepreneurs to submit ideas for P&G. The result is products like GLAD ForceFlex trash bags, Swiffer Dusters, and the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser — all of which came from outside ideas.

The Lesson: Rather than putting up competitive walls within your industry, look for ways to partner with the smart thinkers out there who are coming up with the next game-changing technology.

Learn More: P&G Connect + Develop

3> Ask the world

Fans and customers — the folks who use your products every day — are some of the best sources for new innovations. Dell’s IdeaStorm and Starbucks’ MyStarbucksIdea have both been constant idea generators for their respective brands, and now Coke Zero is getting into the mix with their Department of Fannovation. The program is the result of Coke Zero’s partnership with CBS Sports and NCAA Basketball, and is asking sports enthusiasts to submit ideas to enhance the fan experience during college basketball games. The best 64 ideas will make a tournament, with fans voting on their favorites until a champion is selected for implementation. Where in the past similar efforts relied on surveys and focus groups, this project drastically increases the amount of available ideas.

The Lesson: Increase both customer engagement and your sources for great ideas by making it easy for fans to share their suggestions.

Learn More: MediaPost

4> Check it out: What the Hashtag?!

If you’re having trouble following and understanding any of the hashtags on Twitter, try this user-editable encyclopedia that tracks and explains a bunch of them. And if your business relies on a particular hashtag, it might be a good idea to submit a definition for it here, too.

Check it out: What the Hashtag?!

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