“I think your wine went flabby.” That was the word we got from a wine expert when we were telling her about a special wine we finally opened and with which we had a poor experience. Kim had gotten the wine from a winery owner in France when she travelled to Cannes regularly for business and had held on to it for nearly 10 years. When we finally got to it, the wine was pretty flavorless and flat —or “flabby” as it was put.

Evidently, only some wines hold up well for long-term aging. Most don’t get a lot better with a lot of time on the shelf.

Ideas are particularly prone to going stale. And without fresh ideas, most everything else will go stale too, so it is important to pay attention to new ideas.

Great ideas need some motion to stay in good shape. Spending too much time on a shelf, or post-it note, or in a spreadsheet is tough on ideas. As time passes, the conditions that created the idea can change (and affect relevance). We can also lose the nuance of the idea and forget why we thought that was such a great idea in the first place. How many times have you found an old note with an idea on it  and thought 1) that would have been very valuable to start a couple months ago OR 2) I’m not really sure what I was thinking, exactly?

To keep your ideas fresh, try this:

  • Collect your ideas as you usually do (post-it note, spreadsheet, journal, on phone notes, etc)
  • Schedule a regular time to review your ideas (either weekly or bi-weekly)
  • Give your idea a relevance test. This means checking if the idea still makes sense to you and is important.
  • Pick an obvious next step. The obvious next step is not always to IMPLEMENT the idea. Sometimes it is simply to get more information or to get someone else’s perspective. The idea is to keep the ideas moving…OR just trash it and move on.

People have unlimited creativity. In fact it is likely that we have far more creative solutions than we have real problems. But make sure you are taking time to do something with that creativity. We wouldn’t want our creativity to get flabby too.

As leaders, we need to mindful of not only OUR ideas, but ideas that are coming from our team. IN THIS VIDEO I give suggestions on how not to fumble away the moment when suggestions DO come your way.