This post is inspired by four thoughts coming together.
1. A few years ago I pitched a book idea to Berrett-Koehler's President, Steve Piersanti. He passed on the book because the idea was unremarkable. He asked, "what's your big idea?" And he said, "I don't see it here." He was right, BTW.
2. A mentor of mine was trying to help me lower my expectations for a project that was frustrating me by suggesting that, "most people have only one revolutionary idea in their lifetime." He was wrong, BTW.
3. I was reviewing a piece of writing for a friend. He took a perfectly logical approach to laying out his idea but one that ended up stripping out the drama, magic, and most importantly, his big ideas. Ironically, his topic is innovation. And he has great ideas - big ideas.
4. I was re-reading Meg Wheatley's Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World (a must read for all managers) and was re-struck by her assertion that information is a force, not a thing. And that change occurs in jumps enabled by invisible connections. Big ideas are ideas that make quantum leaps and this happens every day (it is not a rare thing, see #2).
I believe that you and all your team members have the potential to generate MANY big ideas. But often, we don't know how to A) identify them, B) convey them, and C) use them.
Think about this the next time you create an email, a PPT, or have a conversation. What is the big idea that you want to share? Is it coming through in your communication? Start with the big idea first to generate interest and engagement. Great books do this, too. I remember one of my publishers suggesting that I move a chapter that I had in the second half of the book to the beginning because it contained the big idea (in Focus Like a Laser Beam, I think). I fought to keep the Tony Bennett story in the front of my book Hip and Sage because I knew that it encapsulated the big idea behind the book (I won, BTW, and I love the way it starts the conversation about relevancy and vibrancy).
When I coach, I am looking to discover the big idea each person has that makes up their unique brand of leadership - what is driving them every day?
And as a manager, you will catalyze team member success when you help each person define and convey their big ideas. In fact, I think one of the funnest and most special things we can do is to be mid-wives for big ideas.