Why it’s so important to make time for ideation

I’m a big believer in the importance of regularly removing yourself from your usual surroundings to encourage ideation.

If you only ever stay in the same place, listening and interacting with the same people, in my experience, the odds of coming up with a way of doing something different greatly reduce.

On the other hand, I find if I deliberately place myself in new environments, listening to different people talking about things that have no direct relationship to our business or industry, it is very rare that ideas don’t spark.They may not always catch alight, but sometimes they light the fire that forms a new initiative or even a new business.

Even ideas that quickly fizzle and die are important, because they continue to strengthen your ‘fail fast muscle.’  By this, I mean exercising your ability to quickly test out a new idea and walk away if it isn’t going to fly. Building this muscle is a vitally important business skill (and one my friend Lisa Messenger writes and speaks about regularly and eloquently).  If you don’t practice this skill regularly you can find yourself wasting time and money by pursuing ideas that should have been abandoned, or at least significantly modified, way earlier.

This week I had a great opportunity to be part of an event that is one of the best I’ve experienced for ideation. Wired for Wonder is a two day event in Sydney, with a wide variety of speakers across a range of topics, from technology, to science to the arts, with sessions leaping from one thought stimulator to the next, apparently disconnected but in reality carefully constructed to best stimulate new thinking. I attended last year’s event and loved it and had already registered to attend this year when I was asked to be part of the speaker line up.

The event is held at NIDA and the surrounds of the various presenting environments add to the thought-generating experience.
The two environments I spoke in were so different to my normal speaking gigs, one holding mannequins dressed in an array of period costumes:


And  the other a mad Alice in Wonderland-style set; very appropriate given I was presenting a session called Through the Glass on my year as a Google Glass Explorer.


So, what ideas sparked for me at this years event?

  • After hearing Guy Kawasaki, I will never forget the power of the three word mantra over the generic mission statement
  • I am redoubling my efforts to get back to cardiac exercise ASAP (as this ankle finally heals up) after hearing a number of presenters deliver scientific evidence to support what I know from experience to be so true. Starting the day with cardio does improve your thinking, make you a better decision maker and leader, as well as the better-known general health benefits
  • I have reaffirmed my commitment to do my absolute best to provide GenZ with opportunities to deliver the world change that they are so well equipped to do.
  • As we build Epic Digital, our new digital health business,  I will ensure that our primary goal remains customer focused, where customers are clear on the value they gain from the insights that their health data can provide. Andreas Weigend spoke eloquently on the importance of customers understanding the value they get from from the data they provide businesses, and it was a message that really resonated
  • While I’ve been fortunate enough to hear them speak a number of times before, hearing Judy and Tim Sharp never fails to remind me of the incredible power of the human spirit and, with strength and determination, so much is possible. The fact they received a standing ovation suggested this touched a nerve with the rest of the crowd too


  • Last, but not least, in this increasingly connected world there is still nothing like face to face interaction with others who share your approach to life, regardless of the business or industry they are in

One of my takeaways from last year’s Wired for Wonder was the importance of making the time to laugh and create happiness, and the female disruptors session I was involved in with Mary Coustas, Lisa Messenger, Catriona Wallace and Jane Huxley certainly did plenty of that!  We laughed ourselves silly on the couch and have continued to do so in the follow-up electronic conversations that have ensued on email and social media.

I’m so grateful for these wonderful friendships that add so much to my life both in business and personal settings, and the fact that they have come about through putting myself in environments that have nothing to do with our core business of pharmacy and healthcare to me says it all.

You may not have the opportunity to get too far away physically from your usual environment, but we all get presented with opportunities to do things that at face value make no sense, as they have no direct correlation to what our job or business involves.  Those are the opportunities to grab with both hands, because they are the ones that are ripe for ideation to occur and the consequences of that may well change your life.

The photo that summed up this years Wired for Wonder event for me
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