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Andy Boynton

innovation. leadership. strategy.
Q & A With Andy: The Idea Hunter

When you call someone an Idea Hunter, what do you mean?
Idea hunters are constantly switched on to the world of ideas, wake up each day a little wiser because they’ve mastered the hunt, and separate themselves from the pack by virtue of the strength of the ideas they bring to others.

In The Idea Hunter, you mention that brilliance is optional when it comes to developing new ideas.  What are the key factors that lead to this conclusion?
Behaviors trump IQ and brains. Period. Ideas are out there to be discovered and used to drive improving what we do and overall creativity. Innovation is an input-output, and realizing that the best ideas are combinations of old ideas. A genius sitting in the corner thinking great thoughts will never beat an expert idea hunter in the innovation game.

What is DeepDive™ and how is it still relevant in today’s changing world, economy and sector of business?
The DeepDive™ is a proven approach to coming up with great solutions for almost any managerial problem.  A DeepDive™  takes 20 to 300 people, puts them into a room designed for conversations, creates problem solving teams, and it energizes a powerful market place for ideas (where some fail, and others survive) that ultimately shapes practical and very innovative solutions to an incredibly wide variety of managerial challenges – strategy implementation and formation, organization change, cost cutting, creating a vision, process recreation, and more – in 4 to 8 hours. The DeepDive™ is an accelerator that seizes all the experience and expertise (and energy!), creates focused and terrific conversations and ends up with solutions that converge and diverge on the most important problems any organization faces.

You have said that in our current environment we don’t have a shortage of resources—we have a shortage of ideas. How can this be solved?
As Paul Romer, the brilliant economist says, the “idea gap” is far more important than the “object gap”. As professionals we can’t really do better with more things (or objects): computers, software, offices, and the like.  What we need are better ideas to solve problems, to create solutions, to serve clients, to cut costs, for new products or services.  This idea gap can be addressed by countries and organizations many ways. For people, to get more ideas. Become an idea hunter. It’s learnable and there is a method that can be used right away.

What are some key things to keep in mind when hunting for better ideas?
The entire book gives clear and useful prescription for what to keep in mind when hunting for ideas. I won’t steal the thunder here. But throughout the hunt, remember it should be fun and empowering. Idea hunting is about tuning into the world of ideas, grabbing those that can help you achieve your goals and objectives, and becoming better each day. And remember, ideas are out there for free to use. You only have to hunt for them. Watson, the game is afoot!

You talk about “finding your gig” in The Idea Hunter. What are some key questions people need to ask themselves to find the “Big Gig” in their life?
Finding the Gig is essential and the book points to ways and refers to some other experts (and their sources) to look at. To start, think about what you are passionate about. (Not what others want you to be passionate about) and then consider are you any good at it, and is there a need for it in society. Without all three conditions aligned—it’s doubtful your gig will get you far. Knowing your gig is about blending your passion with your pragmatism.

How have you translated your ideas and message from your writings (books) into your job as the Dean of The Carroll School of Management at Boston College?
Each day as dean, I just naturally draw upon the ideas and experiences in all my books to try to work with my terrific colleagues to help move Boston College and the Carroll School forward. We are blessed. Boston College is a place that knows its gig. We focus on being great at it. Our gig founded on student formation, excellent academics, and on Catholic and Jesuit ideals. Regardless of religion, and we have an incredibly diverse community, we all buy into that gig. My research and writing is part of who I am, and what I think, and I use it each and every day on the job.