Kick starting #cong18 in Ashford Castle Valerie shared a life time of coming up with ideas for print and radio. She discussed how ideas like ‘Ditch Watch’ originated and how she scooped headline grabbing stories. In a classic storytelling narrative Valerie also gave an insight into the time pressures that the media operate within and the need to rapidly think on one’s feet and taking risks.
Ideas come from a wealth of sources, take time to form and clients need to educated on how to buy them.
4 Key Takeaways:
‘Morning after’ test
Look at the info you have
Never stop looking – everywhere
Learn to buy as well as sell ideas
About David Gluckman:
David Gluckman was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa on 1st November 1938, the day that Sea Biscuit and War Admiral fought out the Race of the Century at Pimlico Park, Baltimore. Educated in Johannesburg, he joined a local advertising agency after university and soon fell in love with business. He made the pilgrimage to London in 1961 and worked as an account executive on the introduction of Kerrygold butter into the UK. Always a frustrated creative, he escaped into brand development in 1969, met a man from a drinks company called IDV, and his life changed forever. A lover of cricket, he considers his greatest achievement bowling the West Indian legend, Joel Garner, first ball in a pro-am 6-a-side tournament.
In 1973 David invented Baileys, the world’s most successful cream liqueur, which has since sold over 1.25 billion bottles.
On October 15 2013 Daphne McKinley lost her son Sean Edwards in a motorsport accident. From this tragedy she established the Sean Edwards Foundation to improve safety conditions and awareness in all levels of motorsport. From this acorn of an idea into she created a movement that is achieving real change in this global sport.
4 Key Takeaways:
We must embrace and harness fear
Ideas take focus and effort to become real
Sometime you need to step back
About Daphne McKinley:
Daphne McKinley has a broad commercial background with decades of property development experience in the UK and Monaco. She has developed validated financial analytics and a successful planning process for creating value, complimenting her perspective on award winning design through her design and construction management team.
Gar Mac Críosta is co-founder of MindRising. In Gar’s other life he has 20+ years, working in the areas in the areas of business model innovation, digital strategy, architecture and organizational effectiveness (lean/agile) across a variety of industries. His work as a digital architect, instructor and speaker has taken him around the world. Gar is a certified architect professional (IASA CITAP), a Fellow of the Irish Computer Society and Certified Lego® Serious Play Facilitator. Gar has served on the board of the Irish Computer Society and the Board of Iasa Global.
When the stakes are high implementing ideas can be difficult and your gut instinct can count for a lot.
4 Key Takeaways:
Trust your gut
Don’t shy from the easy choice
New ideas can rejuvenate your company
About Paul Killoran:
Paul is the founder & CEO of Ex Ordo. Fundamentally he is a problem-solving engineer that tries to think a little bit left field, much to the frustration of his fiancé. He is passionate about startups, the tech community and Galway. Random Fact: Before founding his first tech company, he trained as a ballet dancer in London, which probably explains his twitter handle.
When you’re the founder of a company, you live and die by your ideas.
In the early years, ideas were wonderful creative opportunities that had no boundaries or risks. As time moved on and the level of my responsibility grew; the pursuit of good ideas became more of a necessity to feed the money machine and less about my own creative endeavours.
Faced with the prospect of leading a company of incremental growth, we made a decision to raise some investment last year. We closed our investment round in April 2017 and we started building products and marketing mechanics to drive growth in our business.
By the end of 2017, I was faced with a very stark reality. Our revenue for 2017 was disappointing and unless something changed quickly, all of our financial models suggested that we were going to run out of cash somewhere in the middle of 2018. The answer was clear. We had to increase sales and we needed to come up with ideas. Fast.
Ideas or bust. No pressure.
For the past couple of years, I’ve always known that our brand and message was wrong. We’d spent years trying to sell to academics based on a brand that was serious, prestigious and intelligent. Unfortunately, despite a lot of hard work we showed modest sales.
Even though my gut was telling me it was time for change, I had enormous self-doubt. I was afraid that making such a change might alienate our existing customer base and cause a decline in our overall sales performance. So I did what most people do when they lack conviction, I hired consultants to tell me what to do.
The consultants carried out surveys and market research on our behalf. They interviewed our customers and asked probing questions. Finally, they compiled all their research and produced a wonderfully animated presentation. In conclusion, they reported, “There’s nothing wrong with your brand. Your customers love your brand. You don’t need to change anything.”
This wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear. I wanted them to confirm my belief and show me the path to success. I was frustrated, my team felt a rebrand was now unnecessary and we were stalled.
We started 2018 with lots of energy and an understanding that 2018 was going to have to be a big year for us. My team organised themselves on the first week of January and defined an execution plan for the first half of the year. And then in the second week of January, I tore up the script and threw the cat amongst the pigeons.
Discarding the advice of our expert consultants, I was intent on following my gut. It was time to rebrand.
My announcement was met with disbelief and resistance. What about the consultants? What about the company plan for 2018? Why are we wasting time rebranding? Why now?
I dug my heels in. I put my neck on the line. I committed my reputation to a 10 week rebrand project, that I needed to deliver on.
Like most rebrand exercises; it was difficult, it was uncomfortable and it consumed a lot of creative energy. But 12 weeks later, we emerged with a new brand, a new message and a new story. On the 26thof April we launched our new brand into the unknown in the hope that it might improve our fortunes.
Today, 6 months on from the day we launched the new Ex Ordo, we can see the effect of that idea and that decision. The traffic on our website has tripled, the number of quotes we receive has increased by about 250% and the value of the deals we’re closing has doubled. And as a result, Ex Ordo turned profitable for the first time in 2.5 years in August 2018. It has since continued to grow its profitability and we’ve high expectations for 2019.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned this year is; despite the pressure, fear and self-doubt, we all need to find the courage to back our own ideas particularly in times of high stress and pressure.
Following through on ideas is easy when the stakes are low. However, it takes a huge amount of courage and self-belief to execute ideas when the stakes are high. The more you succeed, the higher the stakes become and consequently the more courage you need to back your own ideas.
Caoimhe May (Pronounced Queeva/Kweeva May) is a teenager from County Galway, Ireland. She is a writer of Poems, speeches, short stories and unseen work. She openly suffers from severe anxiety and depression and openly speaks about her mental health issues in order to raise awareness and end the stigma and embarassment around all mental illnesses. Caoimhe May is also an avid and actively speaking feminists and is extremely passionate about equality for every type of person on the planet. She believes strongly in standing up for what you believe in, being resilient, being powerful while empowering others, and the journey of recovery and self love. Caoimhe has been reading and writing all her life, and had a children’s book published when she was twelve that she had written at eight years old. Caoimhe May is a secondary school student and so she finds it hard to find time to apply to events or speeches but would speak in front of crowd about what she believes in every day if she could. She wants to go into public speaking, the media and performance arts when she leaves school and any leeways anyone may have of getting her there would be immensely appreciated! She is also available to do readings and poem performances for any event. Caoimhe also promises to make a difference in the world for the better, be it big or small. And she does not break promises.
The role communication plays is often underestimated in the innovation process. Powerful ideas usually emerge from messy iterative processes that don’t lend themselves neatly to power point slides and big presentations. What is required is a sustained focus on communication at every stage of the process to build belief, clarity and ultimately implementation.
4 Key Takeaways:
Innovation is a messy, iterative process. Our standard communication methods – reports, power point and presentations – are not fit for purpose.
Externalising innovation work in dedicated project spaces builds knowledge, shared understanding and alignment which increases innovation success.
Build experiences as part of your communication plan to deepen understanding and belief around what will and will not work.
Treat communication as a process, not as an event. Don’t wait until the end to reveal ideas, open them up early for collective input and to build shared ownership.
About Barry MacDevitt:
Barry has spent most of his career in marketing working for a number of multinationals across the food and telco sectors. He has also worked on the agency side too, so he knows the other side of the fence as well.
More recently though he was CEO of DesignTwentyFirst Century a not-for-profit that was one Ireland’s pioneers in promoting design thinking as an approach to advancing solutions, engendering change and unlocking new ways of learning in people. Some of this work was featured by Jeanne Liedtka, one of the worlds leading authorities on design thinking, in her bestselling book ‘Solving Problems with Design Thinking’.
He is now an independent consultant and lecturers part time at Maynooth University on their Design Innovation Masters programme.
Is there any organisation today that does not think innovation is important?
New ideas are the life blood of innovation and yet most organisations struggle to get good ideas to market.
How these ideas are embraced, nurtured or rejected depends hugely on how well they are understood and represented. Communication holds the key.
But communicating new ideas has become more difficult today because the context in which our standard methods (reports, presentations and power points) operate in has changed. These default methods have become less effective because:
A) Complexity is increasingly the norm. The ideas that aim to solve todays problems are much more complex because there is a myriad of interrelate dependencies connected to them. This web of complexity is hard to manage, structure, and explain but is essential to establishing the relevance of a new idea. Reducing an idea to just an elevator pitch risks trivialising or dumbing down the complexity of the context it has emerged from.
B) Creating and implementing new ideas involves more people. While the spark of a new idea maybe tracked back to a single person, getting it implemented, particularly when speed of execution matters, involves a small army of people in most organisations. So the challenge for communication is now bigger, it must engage, leverage, and align a whole ‘human system’ inside an organisation if the idea is ever to see the light of day.
C) Engagement (v’s transmission) is critical. In most organisations we think that delivering information, in presentations for example, gets the job done. But as George Bernard Shaw once said ‘the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place’. What we really need to do is to engage people, to build their belief and buy-in and a ‘transmission’ based model is not very good at that. Co-creating and building shared experiences with stakeholders is far better as it deepens understanding, strengthens ideas and gives a sense of ownership which are all required to get ideas up and out the door in bigger organisations.
To help develop ideas and move them more efficiently through an organisation communication needs an expanded role to avoid falling into the trap of being just the presentation event at the end of a process. Here are three ways that can help.
1) Create a project room to externalise the work.
Design studios have always worked this way, sharing work-in-progress up on the walls for collective critiquing. This facilitates conversations and a sharing of knowledge in a fast fluid way that you just don’t get when heads are down and behind computer screens. It also aligns teams when everyone can see the information in front of them and highlights what roles they need to play to move things forward. Additionally it becomes a great way to informally bring wider stakeholders into the work as it easily facilitates ‘drop in’ conversations and progress updates on the fly rather then tedious power point updates.
2) Build experiences as part of your communication.
Experiences turn audiences into participants and bridge them into important aspects of innovation work in ways that presentations and conventional reports cannot. Educational theorists call it Experiential Learning and adults especially learn through experiences. The goal is to find ways to lead your audience into the work to allow them make connections themselves, instead of making the connections for them. Like getting them prototyping instead of focusing on the prototype itself or collectively mapping a customer journey instead of getting the customer journey map ‘right’. This approach deepens understanding, builds alignment and helps develop conviction around whats going to work. Theatre, galleries and museums are brilliant at creating ways to build experiences that engage audiences in multi sensory ways to embed learning. Take a walk through The Science Gallery in Trinity College for some inspiration.
3) Treat communication as a process – not as an event.
In many organisations communication ends up falling into the ‘big reveal’ at the end of a project, designed to promote the idea and make it attractive to decision makers. This puts you on the back foot and turns the presentation into a persuasion event instead of building wider ownership and individual commitment for future implementation.
Successful ideas require a sustained focus on communication at every stage of the process to build belief, clarity and ownership. Don’t let it be reduced it to one big sales pitch at the end of the process.
There are lots of ideas in the world. Ideas we live our lives by. They influence the decisions we make and those we don’t. They affect every aspect of our lives; relationships, work, family, health care and society. But what if these ideas are not true? What would happen if we revaluated them, broke away from these old frameworks. What possibilities could we create?
4 Key Takeaways:
What ideas do you live by?
What known-knowns have been passed down to you?
How can we move past these ideas?
Is it time to cut the ties?
About Mary Carty:
Mary Carty is an entrepreneur with a background in the arts, education and technology. Over the past decade she founded two startups and was a BAFTA Interactive finalist. Mary is the cofounder of Outbox Incubator, the first ever incubator for young women in STEM aged 11 to 22. As Executive Director at Blackstone Launchpad NUI Galway, she oversaw the establishment of an entrepreneurship programme open to students, staff and alumni. Recently, Mary represented Ireland on the International Visitors Leadership Program with the U.S. Department of State, focusing on small business and entrepreneurship policy.
If I said pilot, landscape, tree, what do you see in your mind’s eye?
Did you see a man in uniform; lush green fields, a blue sky and a tall green tree?
Sometimes our ideas get stuck.
We come to a place that is so conditioned by our upbringing, or location in the world, and societal views that we hardly ever stop to take stock. We take on board the received wisdom, the known-knowns and proceed to build our values on top of them. Like a foundation stone.
But there is a problem with this. Our idea about the world, how it is made and came into being, is not founded on truth. In fact, most of these truths are no more than mirages. Figments of superstition and hearsay, accepted as truth and right. In many ways, say it often enough and it becomes binding.
I’m fascinated how these ideas about race, gender, work, the environment, ethics and relationships become so ingrained. Let’s have a few examples here. Women are emotional, men don’t cry, boys will be boys, girls love dolls. The list goes on.
These ideas are passed down generation to generation with huge consequences for society and individuals. Girls, supposedly not having the aptitude for maths, are discouraged from entering STEM fields. Men and boys often find it difficult to express their feelings, leading to much mental suffering and isolation.
Roles and responsibilities are mapped out based on these ideals. Mom looks after the children, Dad provides for the home. These ideas impact on healthcare, public policy, justice and education. It is well documented that women receive less pain medication than men of similar body weight. And women have to fight harder for their pain to be acknowledged and treated in the first place.
It’s telling in 2018 we are still battling these biases and it is no easy task to turn the ship around. Sure, we are making some progress. Men stay home more as primary caregivers and women are progressing in their careers. But the pace of change is too slow. We need to tackle the biases at the heart of these ideas. Bring them out into the light and to look at each one in turn.
When these ideas are so totally ingrained in a society, it’s difficult to have conversations to reflect and accept our role in perpetuating them. How many of us make decisions by referring back to these ideas, mostly unconsciously. A car bought for a nephew, a doll bought for a niece; a question about childcare to your friend Marie, never for her partner Dave. The assumption that your female colleagues will look after the Christmas party because they always have.
It’s time we made an assessment of these ideas.
Maybe it’s time to stop handing down truisms to the next generation. Ban phrases like boys will be boys in your home. Take turns note taking at work. Have a roster for the Christmas party. Sit down with your significant other and talk about care giving for your children and elderly parents. Don’t make assumptions about others’ plans. Ask questions of both genders. Include everyone. Don’t stop asking yourself what you really DO believe in and why and where these beliefs come from.
These ideas have had us in their thrall for far too long. It’s time we cut the ties.
And if we have the courage to do so, what kind of society could we create? What new, more expansive and inclusive ideas would emerge? How could these new ideas support all of us to live better lives? It’s a question worth considering.