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Rock Lobster: Combining Innovative Ideas into a Business Offering

The first time I heard “Rock Lobster” by The B52s, it was a cathartic experience. I had not heard sounds like that before. I had not heard sounds put together like that before. I found these four people speaking a language to me that I was unaware I knew how to speak. They defined a creative genre for me that I still listen to today. 

Creativity is a business imperative, and it’s not going to change anytime soon. Percolating ideas has often been encouraged in our business environment. We’ve been encouraged for years to ideate and to foster innovative work time for our staff. How often have you brought those people together to consider their ideas as a combination or layered approach? 

Do you remember the old Reese’s Peanut Cup commercials? “You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!” “You got your peanut butter on my chocolate!” And we are led to think that this fortuitous accident led to the best chocolate candy ever made (not my view, but what I have been told). Look within your company – Where is there a Reese’s product waiting to be born? 

When Amazon initiated ideation time within their organization, separate ideas around improved delivery experience, logistics streamlining, and inventory controls were happening. Creative approaches to each of those areas led to cost considerations as well as concierge service value proposition (What would it be worth to a consumer to have delivery control?). Once those creative approaches were brought into the same room, Prime was born.  

Various departments at Amazon were brought together. The red tape was cut. Bravado and positioning were laid aside. The freedom to be creative and collaborative was real, not just a value listed on the wall. If your organization is to venture more deliberately into shared creativity, the rub is usually the politics, not the innovation. Is your environment one of “keeping your toys” or distrust? If so, don’t launch this idea until you address that. 

From a viewpoint standpoint, the business culture we’re in right now is the most opportunistic. Many organizations have more people working for them who live in other parts of the world due to the opportunity for remote work. These last two years, while difficult in a variety of ways, have allowed for new perspectives and experiences to be offered. Life in Pakistan is different than life in Poughkeepsie, but for the first time, you may have employees working together from both locations. That is gold for ideation. 

Lead through those new environments. Bring resources and people together with ideas they’ve already been encouraged to work on. Allow those Zoom Happy Hours be more productive! Use breakout rooms to foster a dynamic problem-solving session. Whiteboards can be real or virtual; use both! Enable resources to bring the creativity necessary for business growth, relevance and opportunity. That is part of a leader’s role. 

It can’t be just an idea; it must be activated. Your organization needs this to happen. So, get some peanut butter and chocolate and get going.  

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