Mind Like Mud: GTD and Innovation

Sunday, March 29th, 2009
Most ideas need a little churning to be great.

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A more colorful word for idea churning is percolation. Percolation serves to let your brain take other great ideas and common themes, and then mash them together to create that most hallowed of business goals: synergy.

A Summit panelist proposed an intermediate step in the GTD workflow process for percolation-needy items. The step would nestle in between Capturing and Next Action

But the problem is that percolation is not a natural GTD workflow step to grab hold of. Once you’ve captured an actionable idea, GTD says to either put it into a Next Action or throw the item onto a Someday/Maybe list (third option: delegate it). But percolation? It’s less tangible than a Next Action but more immediate than a Someday/Maybe. It’s critical to innovation but awkward to handle.

My personal solution has been to put “brainstorm” next actions into my Anywhere category. This still can suffer from out-of-sight, out-of-mind tendencies. Ideally, I want my really creative ideas to be bouncing around my head frequently, creating all kinds of synergistic magic.

The same panelist who opened the percolation can of worms also had this tidbit of advice: when you are doing a Weekly Review, prime your mind with 3-4 projects that you want to pay special attention to over the next week. Maybe this is a better way to do percolation. I’ll experiment.

Guest Post by Ryan Heathers

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