Powering Inspiration


Edison, it is rumoured, said the “Genius is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration”. You don’t have to be a Millennial to want to change the balance in favour of the latter.

We’re all trying to solve problems. That’s what we’re paid the big bucks for! Except very few of us are actually taught how to do this efficiently. We kind of work it out as we go along. Some are better than others, which may help to decide who goes further, or what options or doors become available to us.

Whatever the method, solving problems should be a constant evolution. We can read articles & reports, experiment, model, do, consult, or simply chew the fat with others with experience. This latter method can both shortcut the process, and lead to some unexpected results.

Conversation is unscientific, and problematic. It’s difficult to put on a timesheet, and justify against a specific benefit. And those of us who have been in the consultancy space are sometimes challenged accordingly.

But it is probably one of the most valuable sources of resolution. That is assuming you’re speaking with the right people.

Another issue with conversation is that you’re as likely to come across solutions to problems you either didn’t know you had, than essential truths to address current concerns. Serendipity needs to be a strategic weapon in your solution set.

If you’re lucky enough to be surrounded by insightful and generous colleagues then you need look no further than your company address list. If not, then you need another playing field.

If we’re looking for inspiration to solve a particularly thorny issue, we don’t tend to look to vendors or suppliers. Not unless the problem is very targeted, and we have a budget. Sometimes the problem is a lack of one.

But vendors, in the right environment, can be sources of ‘big thinking’ and not just sales. Few enjoy being sold to, but we do love being inspired and sometimes challenged. And you’d hope that organisations that have survived and thrived will have put a lot of thought in to whatever it is they do. (And remember, everyone is a salesman!).

We also like to get something for nothing.

From the vendors perspective, high-level consumers also have a chance to feedback to them on pain points to some of the major UK companies. Canny companies want to test their thinking, poke their assumptions and see if they survive a bit of a beating.

The confluence of these two groups - strategic CxO’s with tricky problems to solve, and vendors with ideas to rumble or experience to share - can result in extreme serendipity.

Again, from the Vendors’ perspective, they have the chance to associate their brand with some ‘big thinking’. Sometimes this will be a test to see if that thinking is coherent, and where any weak points are. The people in the room have the experience and candour to provide that feedback. This is invaluable. In return, the collected CxO’s can learn from others in the room, all fighting similar battles or trying to solve similar problems. And when great minds focus on a similar subject, even for just a hour or two, ideas emerge and connections are made that can make a big difference to your real world

Sales Filter provides the mediation between problems and potential solutions. Just not the solution you thought you needed, yet.

By Gavin Whatrup, Global Business Information Security Officer - MullenLowe Group