As an extrovert, I always loved networking—even when it wasn't actually helping me do my job better. I've always been really good at keeping in touch with people. For example, I still have a BBQ every summer with my high school friends and their families where 25 to 35 adults and kids show up. This ability applies to my work as well. One of my secrets (that's no longer a secret) is that I have "replacement friends" at whatever job I am in. When one person I am particularly close to leaves, I find a replacement friend for that person to keep the network strong.
This should also be true for you and your pipeline of ideas. You never want to find yourself in need of good ideas, but stuck with a weak “network.” So in order to keep your network strong, you need to recognize when ideas go out into the world, leaving a space to be filled. Whether they leave because they become a reality, or whether they are killed, they are no longer available to be pulled forward—you need replacements!
To that end, here are some ways to find replacement ideas:
Keep a notebook handy so you can write down of all of the gems that occur out of nowhere.
Conduct periodic ideation and convergence sessions to refill the pipeline.
Re-mine prior ideas. Maybe they weren't ready to enter your network, possibly because they were not relevant at the time, possibly because they were not fully formed yet, possibly because they were ahead of their time—whatever the reason, they are worth a second look.
If you consciously and regularly generate ideas to replace the ones that have left, you’ll never wind up with a weak network of ideas.
Beth Storzis President and Innovation Process Facilitator at Ideas To Go, an innovation agency that works with Fortune 500 companies in ideation and concept development to incorporate the voice of the consumer.
Beth Storz is President and Innovation Process Facilitator at Ideas To Go. She co-authored the book, "Outsmart Your Instincts: How the Behavioral Innovation™ Approach Drives Your Company Forward." Beth has been a guest on many innovation podcasts and her work has been featured in media outlets such as HuffPost and Fortune. Beth holds a BS in Business Management from Cornell University and a MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business, and has worked in brand management at some of the premier consumer packaged goods companies—including Unilever, Kraft and Nabisco. Since joining Ideas To Go, Beth has established herself as a leader in the Innovation landscape and designed and facilitated projects for hundreds of companies—from CPG to financial services to pharmaceuticals.