Generating and evaluating new ideas

December 17, 2015

By: Kevin Yang

Effective organizations are not only able to generate new ideas, but are also able to correctly identify and pursue its most promising leads. In this month’s session of the Positive Links Speaker Series, Justin Berg (BA ‘07) presented “Creative Forecasting” and how to improve the selection and rejection of ideas within organizations.

Far too often, great ideas are rejected or overlooked. Berg highlighted Harry Potter, a cultural phenomenon that has grossed over $20 billion in revenue to date, as a prime example. Harry Potter was viewed as too long compared to conventional children’s novels, and was rejected by 12 publishers before finally being picked up. How can experienced publishing companies, or any organization for that matter, fail in accurately being able to predict the success of an idea?

Berg presented his research on Cirque du Soleil, an organization where identifying the potential of great ideas is critical to its success. Berg studied how different groups performed in evaluating new ideas, including creators (those generating ideas) and managers (those evaluating ideas).

Berg’s research found that creators were significantly better at predicting the success of an idea than managers. Furthermore, undergoing the process of generating ideas improved one’s ability to accurately evaluate other ideas. The key takeaway from Berg’s speech is that creators may have untapped wisdom in accurately evaluating their peers’ ideas and ultimately helping an organization to identify which ideas to pursue.

I had the opportunity to eat lunch with Berg alongside other +LAB Fellows and Affiliates prior to his lecture. In our introductions we were each asked to share a big idea we had, and I listened in awe as my peers outlined ideas on how to reform an education system, improve voter turnout rates, or use diversity to strengthen teams. There are new ideas everywhere, and every organization is teeming with them. The true question, however, is which idea will you pursue?

Click here to watch the video of Justin Berg’s presentation and learn more about how you can leverage creative forecasting in evaluating new ideas within your organization.

For more about the author: Kevin Yang, +LAB Fellow