Business Advice

Creative block? These million dollar companies explain how they generate new ideas

Emma Koehn /

No matter how much success you encounter on your path to growing a million-dollar company, the ability to generate fresh perspectives and approaches will never lose its importance.

Whether it’s starting a different product category or making a broader pitch to customers for the first time, your team needs to be ready to brainstorm ways to respond to the competitive environment around you.

Our Smart50 class of 2017 explain how they keep a fresh perspective and shake off creative blocks to find the best business strategies for growth.

MyDeal Australia 

“I believe that a great leader inspires their team to generate new ideas. I do so by aligning everyone with our vision, and making each individual feel valued by acknowledging they are a part of the bigger picture. This motivates my team to think about how they contribute and drive us to meet our vision.

I also encourage my team to be aware of the trends in the industry and to identify areas of opportunity within our business and the industry that we can leverage. This mode of thinking that I’ve instilled in my employees has sparked a lot of our great ideas! We are always looking out for quick wins and long term opportunities.”

MyDeal Australia founder Sean Senvirtne

Media33

“New ideas are developed by our entire team, we refuse to have hierarchy in our business. In my mind hierarchy diminishes the opportunity for people to learn at the optimum level. The best organisations learn from all angles and team members.”

Media33 founder Michael Lambert

performHR

“We have a culture of ‘ask for forgiveness, not permission’. What this means is we actively work on creating a safe space for our team to try new things, come up with new ideas – just have a crack. Our leaders actively set their team challenges to come up with solutions to issues or in how they can leverage their day/time more.

For me, I ask my team — use technology to collaborate and develop ideas, we hold a team day and set team projects, as well as the innovation board. Personally meditation, yoga and running is my thinking space and where ideas come to me.”

performHR founder Lyndell Fogarty

The Interchange

“Our culture is based around innovation and innovation comes from all sorts of crazy ideas. The art is to create an environment whereby the wackiest of ideas are encouraged and explored. We have put in place a number of initiatives to ensure that we are always generating new ideas including:

1. ‘Wine-Storms’ – every month, the entire team comes together over cheese and wine to brain-storm new ideas.
2. HCD – We have adopted to concept of human centered design for everything that we do
3. Continuous learning – every employee has a learning budget and learning leave to ensure the endless generation of fresh ideas
4. Music is played all day to connect neuro pathways to innovation
5. Meditation and exercise.”

The Interchange founder Gabrielle Harris

hipages

“A great example of how we invest in innovation and generating new ideas in various ways are our annual ‘Hack-Tank’ days, to drive thinking and experimentation around future technology and products. Our Hack-Tank days are a combination of ‘Hackathon’ and Shark Tank, to help foster better relationships between our company board and those in the research and development teams.

A Hackathon is dedicated time given to team members who have an idea for the business to pitch it, gather a team and then collaboratively work on it to produce a prototype. Ideally the prototype after being tested results in a new initiative/feature/system improvement for the business.

Most typically a Hackathon is for engineers — however you don’t have to know how to write code to participate. This year, we had staff members from every department coming up with ideas and leading teams to make their innovation a reality.”

hipages founders David Vitek and Roby Sharon-Zipser

Gravity

“I love to read and reference what overseas spaces are doing, but really, I am an entrepreneur myself, so I look to what I need to support me as a growing business. I think about what helps me to innovate, to be better at what I do, and I generally find the ideas I am looking for by having an honest conversation with myself.

Then, when I figure what I need, I think of ways to find solutions! I also run these ideas by my business partner and then the wider team if they are ideas that have legs. I get their feedback, their pros and cons and start to build on idea this way, right through to the execution of it. I will have 10 ideas but usually only one or two of them are great and executed. Not bad though!”

Gravity founder Jacqueline Esdaile

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Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is SmartCompany's senior journalist.

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