Much of our future business growth will come from inquiring minds that spot how an idea that works in one industry, might possibly transform another.
Take one simple example from the early days in my career in the construction business. During a conversation with my father he told me about an innovative technique using a rock saw to install airport runway lights with minimum disruption. It sparked a connection for me, so I adapted the same rock saw technique to solve the challenges I faced laying cables along cramped streets.
It wasn’t simply a matter of buying rock saws. I could see how this innovative technique could be applied to my own radical approach to cable and conduits, so I had the conduits made with the cables already inside. Instead of being made in 10 ft lengths, they were made in 100 ft reels that we could roll out. As a result of this synergy, the costs of cable laying were slashed by as much as 80 percent, and it was much easier to go around corners in densely populated urban neighborhoods. This solved a big problem and expedited our progress. In business, time and efficiency are crucial, as well as curiosity.
Nobody has a monopoly on good ideas, and no one will be right all the time. I believe that in business you need to be open-minded and inspired to crowdsource from people with different insight from your own. They may offer you a eureka moment and when that happens you have opportunity to see the potential synergy and apply it to your efforts.
Nobody has a monopoly on good ideas, and no one is right all the time
We all have different backgrounds and experiences, and some of us are better at the over-riding vision, while others excel at the detail of implementation. When you have little interest in anything except what’s in front of you, you’re limiting your chances of making new and possibly vital connections. Also, life is a far more enjoyable journey with an eye to what’s going on around you.
Sometimes it just boils down to talking to people – it can open doors and inspire new ideas. I totally agree with Richard Branson, who said: “Being a good listener is absolutely critical to being a good leader.” You need to be interested in as much as you can, without frittering your time away.
Sometimes it just boils down to talking to people
When I was young, I was lucky enough to work in the office of my Congressman, Tip O’Neill, who went on to be a long-serving and very high-profile Speaker of the House of Representatives. During my time doing that job, I met all kinds of fascinating people simply because I was always interested in talking to anyone, and just as importantly, ready to listen. I learned the value of asking questions and listening. They are very simple but very under-rated qualities in life in general.
Even the most successful businesses need to continue to crowdsource ideas and foster growth continually. This is how we evolve.