Last Friday, I covered the “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” presentation with the Kansas School Public Relations Association (KanSPRA) fall conference. The KanSPRA group was fantastic, and the venue at the new Kansas City, KS School District Central Office and Training Center was full of student artwork and creative ideas. I captured video from the creativity-filled facility tour David A. Smith, Chief of Staff with the school district, gave me, and after some editing work, I hope to share it with you soon.
One attendee asked two questions I don’t remember ever receiving before during the “Taking the No Out of InNOvation” presentation:
What are the best and worst creative ideas I’ve been involved with using the creativity techniques we discussed?
I tend not to track or think about “best” and “worst” creative ideas, but hey, when an audience member asks you a question, you try to answer it!
The Worst Idea?
The worst idea I talked about was a NASCAR-related idea to create a citywide racing event for our corporate racing program tied to our Sprint Cup and race sponsorship in Kansas several years ago.
The idea came from the most comprehensive and dynamic brainstorming session we ever conducted. The citywide racing event idea was full of innovative possibilities, and one of the scheduled events was a NASCAR racing festival on the upscale Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. We wanted to bring NASCAR excitement to a new part of the community. Without rehashing the details, the NASCAR racing festival was incredibly poorly attended, created a good deal of acrimony among the people involved, and (as I only recently learned) led to a corporate myth about one staff member having a catatonic trance because of a frustrated comment from me (I was emceeing the event).
Clearly an example where an idea full of innovative possibilities can still result in a complete debacle.
The Best Idea?
The “best” idea was an even tougher question. My quick answer was a lesson I’ve realized over the past few years:
Be open to moving forward with possibilities, even when what will come about isn’t clear.
I shared a story of heading to Hays, KS for less than 24 hours a few weeks ago to attend a university advisory council meeting. While the planned advisory council meeting prompted the roadtrip, I discovered later that two encounters with people I hadn’t talked to since grade school were the REAL reasons I was compelled to head home.
One long conversation with a woman I hadn’t talked to since we were in 6th grade taught me some incredible insights about the joy of being a selfless caregiver. I also reconnected with a fellow grade school religion class student I’d only talked with briefly several years ago when my dad was hospitalized. At the same time she was telling me about her brother’s job, Max Utsler was telling Barrett Sydnor he’d recommended to her brother he talk to me about doing some social media work for his organization. Through Facebook, he saw I’d had lunch with his sister and reached out to me. We’re meeting this week.
Did I have a great idea to go to Hays, KS for the weekend or what?
Actually, it wasn’t really my great idea. Being open to whatever might happen, even though I didn’t understand it beforehand, was central to both of these unexpected experiences.
Trust me, it’s taken me years to learn this lesson. They say, “God helps those who help themselves.” I think it might really be, “God helps those who stop trying to get in the way of what he’s doing for them.”
What about you? Do you categorize your best and worst creative ideas? If you do, would you care to share your stories about them? – Mike Brown
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