Mining Nuggets of Gold

KEN: “Hey, Dan. How’s it going today?”

DAN: “I don’t get it. Sometimes ideas come to me so fast I can’t remember them all. At other times, like today, it seems like the well is empty and there are no more new ideas. To make matters worse many times when I try to incorporate a new idea it puts me behind schedule.”

Sound Familiar?

That’s the way it was for me when I was designing a new online reservation and contract software package for Alliance Redwoods in 1998. These great ideas would come to me. In fear of forgetting them I would begin incorporating them ASAP. That put me behind schedule on release dates and at times the new idea created more problems than it solved.

It was beginning to get very frustrating!

Enter Ken Kinser. Ken was a retired project manager for Agilent Technologies. He oversaw the development of software packages used around the world. Ken was hired on to oversee guest services at the Redwoods. One of his responsibilities was to help me complete the online software innovations.

Here is what Ken told me as we continued our conversation above:

A) Get a journal and title it Golden Nuggets

B) Each time you get an idea do the following:

… 1) Go to a new page and write down your idea as completely as you can.
… 2) Re-read the idea and give it a title at the top of the page. This needs to be short and include the basic concepts in your idea
… 3) Decide if the idea will

……. a) Solve a current problem you are working on,
……. b) Fill in a missing component of a project you are working on, or
……. c) Best serve as a future upgrade to enhance the functionality of your project later.

C) Act accordingly

… If your idea addresses a CURRENT PROBLEM: Start integrating right away. Make a note in your journal how you used it.

… If it fills in a MISSING COMPONENT: Make a note to look at the idea in your project timeline so that when it comes time to start developing the new component you can go back to your journal and refresh your memory on the idea

… If it is better served as a FUTURE UPGRADE: Start a list, or in my case add to your current list, of future upgrades.

D) Don’t turn these gold nuggets into fool’s gold

… So many times an idea is lost because we don’t take enough time to document the concept when it comes to us. Take the time the idea deserves to describe it as vividly as possible. Be sure to draw sketches or diagrams that will help illustrate the concept. Help your idea move from your subconscious to reality. If you don’t it will be lost forever. There is a reason it came now and not sooner or later and no one has a clue why that is. One thing is for sure … it is going to leave as fast as it came. Don’t let it slip through your hands and get washed downstream, write it down.

… Do NOT assume that the idea has to be acted upon NOW. Be sure to take every thought captive and decipher how, when, and where it is best used.

… The next time you need a new idea first start mining the ones you’ve already had. What you’re looking for may be sitting there waiting for you to rediscover it in the pages of your journal.

… And finally, do NOT assume that the idea is only for you. It is very possible that what came to you is actually better served for someone you know. Ask yourself, “Who do I know that could benefit from this idea?” If a names comes to mind, send them the idea and be available to discuss it with them.

I hope this helps. Good luck Mining Nuggets of Gold! It really can be an exciting adventure. That’s what it’s been for me.

Thank You, Ken Kinser!

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