Great ideas

When he was pre-planning Nintendo Wii video game Disney Epic Mickey, gaming legend Warren Spector (creator of classic games System Shock and Deus Ex) took a slightly different approach to how the game would pan out.

Instead of having his best designers, scripters, coders and creatives brainstorming ideas, Spector got a bunch of interns together from the Disney Interactive Studios intern group. He then let them have free range over coming up with ideas on the game’s look, feel and plot.

The result is one of the most unique and successful games from last year’s holiday period, with a great twist in gameplay mechanics. It’s also proof in Warren Spector’s belief in the power of a great idea: you don’t have to have years of experience to come up with greatness.

Now think how your business can transfer a video game’s approach to your overall one.

Age is a Fallacy

As Spector’s use of interns show, age doesn’t always equate to experience. Sure, the older you are, the more experience you have of things. But this generation has grown up with the web as a standard; who do you think would be the best people to have brainstorming a web project, for example?

Think of the people you have versus the people you need - they’re not always the same thing.

Ears Are Better Than Eyes

The first step to any sales success is listening to what the market needs. Sure, as marketers, our job is to provide what the market wants (or at least make the market want our products). But sometimes we really do just need to listen to what the market needs. Our eyes can see trends and results of action; but our ears can get the real story behind the trend (or even before it happens).

Listen more – don’t just rely on sight. Listen to your employees; your customers; your sales team; your competitors. Don’t just accept what you see; interpret what you hear.

Greatness Never Ends

Just because you have one big hit that pays the bills for the next ten years, don’t accept that that’s necessarily all you need to do. Royalties are great but times change – your great idea from last year might be next year’s black sheep.

Continue to push yourself and ask what worked; why it worked; what didn’t; how it can be improved. Acknowledge the great ideas that others have had, and ask how you can adapt to your own needs. Ideas only stop when you’re dead.

How about you – how are you powering your great idea?

image: Abdulrahman’photographer

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103 comments
Wes Towers@GraphicDesignMelbourne
Wes Towers@GraphicDesignMelbourne

Hi, Danny.

You are quite right. Ears are definitely better than eyes. Listening to my customers and their needs have been what drove me to find better ways to serve them. Because of what they tell me, I am able to come up with new ideas.

My age of the members of my team varies, too and not all of them are graduates of something. Somehow, if we find the time to listen to people, really listen to them, despite their age or college degree, we will find fresh perspectives that we could learn from. And, that is what I get from my team.

Good read, mate!

Wes Towers@GraphicDesignMelbourne
Wes Towers@GraphicDesignMelbourne

Hi, Danny.

You are quite right. Ears are definitely better than eyes. Listening to my customers and their needs have been what drove me to find better ways to serve them. Because of what they tell me, I am able to come up with new ideas.

My age of the members of my team varies, too and not all of them are graduates of something. Somehow, if we find the time to listen to people, really listen to them, despite their age or college degree, we will find fresh perspectives that we could learn from. And, that is what I get from my team.

Good read, mate!

Danny
Danny

Hey there mate,

I thought you'd been a bit absent, mate - great to hear you're busy over there, that's never a bad thing. Guess this listening thing actually works, eh? ;-)

Wes Towers@GraphicDesignMelbourne
Wes Towers@GraphicDesignMelbourne

Hi, Danny. You are quite right. Ears are definitely better than eyes. Listening to my customers and their needs have been what drove me to find better ways to serve them. Because of what they tell me, I am able to come up with new ideas. My age of the members of my team varies, too and not all of them are graduates of something. Somehow, if we find the time to listen to people, really listen to them, despite their age or college degree, we will find fresh perspectives that we could learn from. And, that is what I get from my team. Good read, mate!

Danny
Danny

Hey there mate, I thought you'd been a bit absent, mate - great to hear you're busy over there, that's never a bad thing. Guess this listening thing actually works, eh? ;-)

Ryan Critchett
Ryan Critchett

Ideas only stop when you're dead. Hmm.

I was in love, recently, with a cool chick from P.A. It went well, she was great, and we had fun. But I'm not sure that I was as in love with her as I am that sentence. *looks all dreamy*

I think there are a lot of messages in this post, but the strongest that stood out to me, is that you should become adept at DOING THINGS with what you see and hear. Am I close?

Ryan Critchett
Ryan Critchett

Ideas only stop when you're dead. Hmm.

I was in love, recently, with a cool chick from P.A. It went well, she was great, and we had fun. But I'm not sure that I was as in love with her as I am that sentence. *looks all dreamy*

I think there are a lot of messages in this post, but the strongest that stood out to me, is that you should become adept at DOING THINGS with what you see and hear. Am I close?

Danny
Danny

I always look at what we see as our own personal camera, Ryan. And as the saying goes, the camera never lies - it's the after-effects that create the false images.

See what's really there and then do what needs to be done. Seems to work, mate. ;-)

Ryan Critchett
Ryan Critchett

Ideas only stop when you're dead. Hmm. I was in love, recently, with a cool chick from P.A. It went well, she was great, and we had fun. But I'm not sure that I was as in love with her as I am that sentence. *looks all dreamy* I think there are a lot of messages in this post, but the strongest that stood out to me, is that you should become adept at DOING THINGS with what you see and hear. Am I close?

Danny
Danny

I always look at what we see as our own personal camera, Ryan. And as the saying goes, the camera never lies - it's the after-effects that create the false images. See what's really there and then do what needs to be done. Seems to work, mate. ;-)

Adam
Adam

Great post Danny I am fortunate right now to be working with an innovative company that never settles for the status quo. We always look for the next "big thing" for our customers. We don't come up with the idea and tell them they will like it. instead we ask them what their challenges are and brainstorm ideas to solve the situation at hand and it works beautifully.

Never assume just because you are the leader you will always be: Example: Nokia and Android Phones, MySpace and Facebook, etc.

In today's rapidly changing world, staying put IS falling behind!

Danny
Danny

I love the fact that you ask what their challenges are, Adam - after all, if your client doesn't know what's troubling them, how can you be expected to solve it? ;-)

Adam
Adam

"if your client doesn’t know what’s troubling them, how can you be expected to solve it?"

I suppose you could throw some random ideas up on the wall, grab a couple of beers and start throwing darts.

It's hard enough "telling" people solutions to their problems. I'm definitely not going to get in the habit of telling them what their problems are too. They should know their world much better than I do, Ill sit back and listen.

Adam
Adam

"if your client doesn’t know what’s troubling them, how can you be expected to solve it?"

I suppose you could throw some random ideas up on the wall, grab a couple of beers and start throwing darts.

It's hard enough "telling" people solutions to their problems. I'm definitely not going to get in the habit of telling them what their problems are too. They should know their world much better than I do, Ill sit back and listen.

Adam
Adam

Great post Danny I am fortunate right now to be working with an innovative company that never settles for the status quo. We always look for the next "big thing" for our customers. We don't come up with the idea and tell them they will like it. instead we ask them what their challenges are and brainstorm ideas to solve the situation at hand and it works beautifully. Never assume just because you are the leader you will always be: Example: Nokia and Android Phones, MySpace and Facebook, etc. In today's rapidly changing world, staying put IS falling behind!

Danny
Danny

I love the fact that you ask what their challenges are, Adam - after all, if your client doesn't know what's troubling them, how can you be expected to solve it? ;-)

Adam
Adam

"if your client doesn’t know what’s troubling them, how can you be expected to solve it?" I suppose you could throw some random ideas up on the wall, grab a couple of beers and start throwing darts. It's hard enough "telling" people solutions to their problems. I'm definitely not going to get in the habit of telling them what their problems are too. They should know their world much better than I do, Ill sit back and listen.

Bhaskar Sarma
Bhaskar Sarma

Business is like sports. One day you are Djokovic, at the top of the world at Wimbledon. A few weeks later, you are still Djokovic but have lost the Davis Cup to the Swedes

As business owners sometimes we will win and sometimes we will lose. We are never going to have a 100% strike rate. But we can have a 100% "we gave our best" rate.

Danny
Danny

Great timing, Bhaskar, what with the Nadal result at Wimbledon. :)

Like you say, as long as we walk away from failure knowing we gave it our best, we can always know that there's always the next time.

Bhaskar Sarma
Bhaskar Sarma

Business is like sports. One day you are Djokovic, at the top of the world at Wimbledon. A few weeks later, you are still Djokovic but have lost the Davis Cup to the Swedes As business owners sometimes we will win and sometimes we will lose. We are never going to have a 100% strike rate. But we can have a 100% "we gave our best" rate.

Danny
Danny

Great timing, Bhaskar, what with the Nadal result at Wimbledon. :) Like you say, as long as we walk away from failure knowing we gave it our best, we can always know that there's always the next time.

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

It's important for us to remember that sometimes our experience gets in our way. Sometimes it's our experience that clouds our mind from the most simplistic level that we need to think from.

I recently started a new job and people have been asking me questions like mad. Not because I know a thing about my new role and responsibilities, but because I come in with a fresh perspective.

That Epic Mickey is great. My kids got it for Xams last year and still play it all the time.

Hope you've been well Danny! Take care sir.

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

It's important for us to remember that sometimes our experience gets in our way. Sometimes it's our experience that clouds our mind from the most simplistic level that we need to think from.

I recently started a new job and people have been asking me questions like mad. Not because I know a thing about my new role and responsibilities, but because I come in with a fresh perspective.

That Epic Mickey is great. My kids got it for Xams last year and still play it all the time.

Hope you've been well Danny! Take care sir.

Danny
Danny

"...sometimes our experience gets in our way."

LOVE it, Jk, and so true - if we really knew everything, would there be any need for any other people in our lives at all? ;-)

Completely agree, too, Epic Mickey is awesome, mate - Disney needs to get that added to their parks stat!

Keep smiling, mate, always a pleasure. :)

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

It's important for us to remember that sometimes our experience gets in our way. Sometimes it's our experience that clouds our mind from the most simplistic level that we need to think from. I recently started a new job and people have been asking me questions like mad. Not because I know a thing about my new role and responsibilities, but because I come in with a fresh perspective. That Epic Mickey is great. My kids got it for Xams last year and still play it all the time. Hope you've been well Danny! Take care sir.

Danny
Danny

"...sometimes our experience gets in our way." LOVE it, Jk, and so true - if we really knew everything, would there be any need for any other people in our lives at all? ;-) Completely agree, too, Epic Mickey is awesome, mate - Disney needs to get that added to their parks stat! Keep smiling, mate, always a pleasure. :)

Jane | Find All Answers
Jane | Find All Answers

Danny,

This is a great insight indeed. "Great ideas" don't stay on top forever; that's true. It is because market needs and demands are ever changing. So we need to be consistently tuning ourselves to keep up with the demands.

OF course a great idea can occur and it can work out, but we should neither be boasting about it nor enjoy the comfort of the success.

We need to say to ourselves that "success is always temporary and we need to work for it every moment".

Jane | Find All Answers
Jane | Find All Answers

Danny,

This is a great insight indeed. "Great ideas" don't stay on top forever; that's true. It is because market needs and demands are ever changing. So we need to be consistently tuning ourselves to keep up with the demands.

OF course a great idea can occur and it can work out, but we should neither be boasting about it nor enjoy the comfort of the success.

We need to say to ourselves that "success is always temporary and we need to work for it every moment".

Danny
Danny

Hi there Jane,

So true. If they stayed on top forever, well, we'd never have a "Best Before..." date message on products, would we? ;-)

Jane | Find All Answers
Jane | Find All Answers

Danny, This is a great insight indeed. "Great ideas" don't stay on top forever; that's true. It is because market needs and demands are ever changing. So we need to be consistently tuning ourselves to keep up with the demands. OF course a great idea can occur and it can work out, but we should neither be boasting about it nor enjoy the comfort of the success. We need to say to ourselves that "success is always temporary and we need to work for it every moment".

Danny
Danny

Hi there Jane, So true. If they stayed on top forever, well, we'd never have a "Best Before..." date message on products, would we? ;-)

Kenny Rose
Kenny Rose

Danny,

Great points made in this post Danny. Blending the old and new and making sure we are focused on being creative/innovative not resting on past accomplishments and using the best people for the job irrespective of status, age etc. As always experience may be a hindrance. Really important to keep open minded and use continuous evaluation of perspectives to make sure knowledge/insight and focus remains fresh and relevant.

Thanks Danny

Kenny Rose
Kenny Rose

Danny,

Great points made in this post Danny. Blending the old and new and making sure we are focused on being creative/innovative not resting on past accomplishments and using the best people for the job irrespective of status, age etc. As always experience may be a hindrance. Really important to keep open minded and use continuous evaluation of perspectives to make sure knowledge/insight and focus remains fresh and relevant.

Thanks Danny

Danny
Danny

An old boss once said to me, "You don't have to have the smartest people around you - just the best people."

At first I thought he was mad, as surely having nothing but smart people would make a success, right? Turns out he was bang on - you can be smart but still wrong for the job in hand.

Being the best for whatever you need to do, though? Now that's smart. ;-)

Kenny Rose
Kenny Rose

Danny, Great points made in this post Danny. Blending the old and new and making sure we are focused on being creative/innovative not resting on past accomplishments and using the best people for the job irrespective of status, age etc. As always experience may be a hindrance. Really important to keep open minded and use continuous evaluation of perspectives to make sure knowledge/insight and focus remains fresh and relevant. Thanks Danny

Danny
Danny

An old boss once said to me, "You don't have to have the smartest people around you - just the best people." At first I thought he was mad, as surely having nothing but smart people would make a success, right? Turns out he was bang on - you can be smart but still wrong for the job in hand. Being the best for whatever you need to do, though? Now that's smart. ;-)

Yael Rozencwajg
Yael Rozencwajg

Hi Danny I really enjoyed your post.
I don't know if I'm the right person to talk about "Experience" but the thing is the "Digital reality" is exactly what you describe with Warren Spector's company.

The next generation of entrepreneurs are digital native, used to share and test surrounded by communities and many times helping solve problems.
As a result their difficulties will be niched in the interpretation of what they hear for "the experienced". And as we all know it's not so easy to hear in such busy environments.
What is true is that we enter into this paradigm shift and clients know, see, listen to tech evolutions. In order to attract them or keep them we have to propose many solutions (even those we haven't already tested) and elevate their level of consciousness: that's the new interactive marketing, that's the new type of conversation we have to share and engage in a long term.
Great inspiring post Danny :)

Yael Rozencwajg
Yael Rozencwajg

Hi Danny I really enjoyed your post.
I don't know if I'm the right person to talk about "Experience" but the thing is the "Digital reality" is exactly what you describe with Warren Spector's company.

The next generation of entrepreneurs are digital native, used to share and test surrounded by communities and many times helping solve problems.
As a result their difficulties will be niched in the interpretation of what they hear for "the experienced". And as we all know it's not so easy to hear in such busy environments.
What is true is that we enter into this paradigm shift and clients know, see, listen to tech evolutions. In order to attract them or keep them we have to propose many solutions (even those we haven't already tested) and elevate their level of consciousness: that's the new interactive marketing, that's the new type of conversation we have to share and engage in a long term.
Great inspiring post Danny :)

Danny
Danny

You know, Yael, it makes me wonder what my one-year old son will have access to, when he enters the workplace (either for someone or for himself).

It's scary to think of all the tools people have access to now to make us think and do better - what it'll be like in 20 years... well, the mind just boggles. :)

Yael Rozencwajg
Yael Rozencwajg

That means, Danny, we have 20 years to prepare ourselves.
And this what will make us experts. :)

Yael Rozencwajg
Yael Rozencwajg

Hi Danny I really enjoyed your post. I don't know if I'm the right person to talk about "Experience" but the thing is the "Digital reality" is exactly what you describe with Warren Spector's company. The next generation of entrepreneurs are digital native, used to share and test surrounded by communities and many times helping solve problems. As a result their difficulties will be niched in the interpretation of what they hear for "the experienced". And as we all know it's not so easy to hear in such busy environments. What is true is that we enter into this paradigm shift and clients know, see, listen to tech evolutions. In order to attract them or keep them we have to propose many solutions (even those we haven't already tested) and elevate their level of consciousness: that's the new interactive marketing, that's the new type of conversation we have to share and engage in a long term. Great inspiring post Danny :)

Danny
Danny

You know, Yael, it makes me wonder what my one-year old son will have access to, when he enters the workplace (either for someone or for himself). It's scary to think of all the tools people have access to now to make us think and do better - what it'll be like in 20 years... well, the mind just boggles. :)

Yael Rozencwajg
Yael Rozencwajg

That means, Danny, we have 20 years to prepare ourselves. And this what will make us experts. :)

leon Noone
leon Noone

G'Day Danny,
Really enjoyed this post; particularly the "ears are better than eyes' notion .But the real conundrum is what makes an idea great.

If, for instance, Warren Spector's interns had merely rehashed a whole lot of old stuff, his original idea wouldn't have seemed so great. People have been pushing 3D since the 1920s. And Popular Mechanics first proposed a combination car/plane at about the same time. Great Ideas? Maybe their time will come......

On the other hand, Henry Ford clearly had a great idea. So did Steve Jobs. It's interesting that both these gentlemen eschewed the idea of asking clients what they needed.

Keep making us think Danny,

Regards
Leon

leon Noone
leon Noone

G'Day Danny,
Really enjoyed this post; particularly the "ears are better than eyes' notion .But the real conundrum is what makes an idea great.

If, for instance, Warren Spector's interns had merely rehashed a whole lot of old stuff, his original idea wouldn't have seemed so great. People have been pushing 3D since the 1920s. And Popular Mechanics first proposed a combination car/plane at about the same time. Great Ideas? Maybe their time will come......

On the other hand, Henry Ford clearly had a great idea. So did Steve Jobs. It's interesting that both these gentlemen eschewed the idea of asking clients what they needed.

Keep making us think Danny,

Regards
Leon

Danny
Danny

Hey there Leon,

Love the Ford and Hobs analogy mate - perfect examples of how listening to yourself is better than listening to others.

Wouldn't recommend that approach to everyone, mind you! ;-)

leon Noone
leon Noone

G'Day Danny, Really enjoyed this post; particularly the "ears are better than eyes' notion .But the real conundrum is what makes an idea great. If, for instance, Warren Spector's interns had merely rehashed a whole lot of old stuff, his original idea wouldn't have seemed so great. People have been pushing 3D since the 1920s. And Popular Mechanics first proposed a combination car/plane at about the same time. Great Ideas? Maybe their time will come...... On the other hand, Henry Ford clearly had a great idea. So did Steve Jobs. It's interesting that both these gentlemen eschewed the idea of asking clients what they needed. Keep making us think Danny, Regards Leon

Danny
Danny

Hey there Leon, Love the Ford and Hobs analogy mate - perfect examples of how listening to yourself is better than listening to others. Wouldn't recommend that approach to everyone, mind you! ;-)

Justice Wordlaw IV
Justice Wordlaw IV

I like this post a lot. I know right now with the transition I have been making with blogging and business I have looked at a lot of different things that have worked in the past and what didn't work to see how those things can be improved on. Right now it seems that you have a lot of different ways of taking your ideas and making them profitable that so many people don't focus just on that one idea.

Danny
Danny

You know what I like about blogging, Justice? The ability it gives us to crowdsource and test things out, and then put that into practice in our business.

Sure as heck saves time and money and, like you say, allows us to turn ideas into profit.

Cheers!

Justice Wordlaw IV
Justice Wordlaw IV

Yes, I like the idea of testing new things out with blogging and measuring to see what works and what doesn't work.

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