Getting to Yes, And

Jeremy Utley: Ideaflow


Jeremy Utley

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Kelly ideates with Jeremy Utley, Director of Executive Education at Stanford and Adjunct Professor at Stanford's School of Engineering. He is the co-author with Perry Klebahn of the book “Ideaflow: The Only Business Metric That Matters."

What I love about your book is how much practical advice you give people to tap into their creativity.

“We had a workshop last week at Stanford -we're working with this company that does electric vehicles - we'll leave it at that. And they're working on autonomous driving and one of the big challenges they face is what's called range anxiety. Meaning, people are concerned about how far they're going to get on a charge. This is a well known phenomenon and they've got engineers working on solving that. Well, just use your imagination, that an engineer who's been thinking about this problem of range anxiety goes to a coffee shop and she's sitting there and she overhears a couple of folks - they come in wearing military garb and she can't help but to eavesdrop, which is a wonderful strategy to discover new insights. I actually blogged about that inspired by your book where you talked about some eavesdropping thing that became an actual show.”

Our mutual friend Bob Sutton actually did research that gave us a number of how many ideas you need to have to get to a good one, right?

“Absolutely, I mean this is one of the few data points that when we share it just consistently astounds people. So, if you ask an audience how many ideas do you need to have a good idea, most of the time the default mode answer is 20. And you know somebody who is really aggressive will say 200. And Bob did this study that put the idea ratio of somewhere around 2000 to one. And for most people that's multiple orders of magnitude more than they expect it to be.”

There is an obsession with getting to the one great idea.

“The deep-seated orientation is I just need one good idea. We're always thinking in terms of singular. I mean, I go around the world, teaching this stuff. Universally it doesn't matter what language or culture, when people ask me what do you do for a living, I say, I help people come up with ideas. I always get the same response -I get it in Asia, I get it in South America, I get it in Europe. I say, I help people come up with ideas and everywhere, the response is, how do you come up with a good idea? I go wait, who said anything about good?”

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