Inception is the art of planting small ideas into someone’s subconscious mind whilst they are in a dream state, so that those ideas can grow to form stronger ideas or beliefs. This is the plot behind the film Inception, starring Leonardo De Caprio, which is set in a world where technology exists to enter people’s dreams. Inside people’s dreams secrets can be stolen resulting in a world of corporate espionage and theft of dreams being rife. De Caprio’s team are tasked with the challenge of doing the opposite of stealing an idea and actually planting one in someone’s mind. Inception is a great film and I highly recommend watching it, to anyone that hasn’t yet. Like with many things, after watching, my mind quickly wandered to business, and whether there are any lessons to be learned from Inception.
Inception is relevant to our business leaders and managers, who should always be looking to take in the ideas of their customers and their employees. Successful business leaders should always be asking themselves what ideas their customers and employees would plant in their minds if they had the opportunity. For many businesses the answers may be basic things such as “a smile from the person on the checkout at my local supermarket”, or for “my manager to say thank you once in a while and tell me I have done a good job”, but they may also unlock more creative ideas such as a change in business process or a new product or service.
In a theoretical sense Inception is possible for businesses, but unfortunately not in a literal sense (at least not until Steve Jobs and Apple have designed this dream-entering technology). By putting the following three things in place businesses will be more open to their customer’s ideas:
1) Putting processes and platforms in place for customers to give their ideas
It has never been easier for customers to tell a business what they think of it. Having a presence on social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter allows a business to gain feedback in real time. In conjunction with traditional research methods like customer satisfaction surveys and focus groups and businesses have a wide range of techniques available to hear their customer’s views.
2) Motivating customers to share their ideas
Having an online presence and being involved in conversations about the business online with their customers will motivate customers to share their ideas and experiences of that business. Whilst monitoring mentions of a business on social networks allows a level of feedback to be obtained, it is being active and forming communities around the business that will really motivate customers to share their ideas. Furthermore, co-creation techniques such as competitions for customers to create their own versions of products or adverts and so on can motivate customers and pass the creativity on to them.
3) Being open mind to accept and try new ideas
It is absolutely vital that managers and business leaders have an open mind to accept and try new ideas, and points 1) and 2) are pointless without this. In the film, Inception is possible by entering low levels of the subconscious mind, where the mind is more open to new ideas. The subconscious mind is where beliefs are formed and it is free from the day-to-day noise. Operating at the conscious level, business leaders encounter a whole manner of noise, distractions and excuses against implementing new ideas or making change. Managers should set aside specific time to listen to the views of their customers and their employees. By creating a mindset and organisational culture that accepts and actively seeks out change, business leaders are more likely to listen to, and try out new ideas.
Do you have any examples of businesses that are open to Inception? If Inception was possible, which businesses would you change? I would love to hear your views.
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