I have recently been exploring the concepts of creativity and innovation for a curriculum I am developing for a youth entrepreneurship program at a non-profit organization.  As I have made progress in my reading and research, a long-standing challenge that I have as an entrepreneur has become more and more apparent.  I don’t need help with creativity and innovation.  My brain is on 24/7 creativity overdrive.  I see ideas everywhere.  I literally drown in ideas.  I have an ideas folder on my computer that is bursting at the seams.  I have ideas on chart paper posted all over my office.  And I have ideas on pieces of paper all over my desk.  

No, creativity and innovation are not my problem.  I have a very different issue.  I am not very good at managing the pipeline of ideas so that the ideas actually become reality.  I am not realistic about the time, effort and resources it will take to turn an idea into something real.  I underestimate all of these by a least a factor of ten.  Usually a hundred.  I need the stark reminder that if my ideas are going to see the light of day, then I need to realistically assess my organization’s capability to implement them. 

This starts with being realistic about my time and my company’s financial position, the two bottlenecks that every entrepreneur needs to manage.  How much time will it take to make the idea a reality?  Is the idea actually worth this time? How much money will it take to make the idea a reality?  Is the idea worth my company’s money?  What kind of return will I get for the idea to make it worth the time and money?  Implementing a good idea just because it is a good idea is not necessarily the best thing to do.  I need to learn this and relearn it continuously.

Innovate or Dinosaur is an award-winning business learning game that focuses on creativity and innovation on the one hand and the cold hard realities of implementation on the other hand.  There are two parts to Innovate or Dinosaur that can be used together or separately depending on where you are in your innovation process or what your objectives are. If you want to generate fresh ideas and learn creative thinking techniques, you use the first part, called Explore.  If you want to work on turning your ideas into reality, you use the second part, called Evolve.  Obviously, I don’t need the first part.  But I definitely need the second part. 

This part of the game forces you to think critically about your idea and ask the hard questions.  Are you ready to implement the idea?  What steps do you need to take in order to implement the idea?  What resources do you need at each of these steps?  And most importantly, do you have these resources?  Because if you don’t, you either need to find the resources or you need to focus on a different idea.  As I need to always be reminded of, time and time again.

Creativity and innovation…meet reality.