Where To Look For New Ideas

by Scott London

Some 1,000 people came together in Canberra, Australia, over the weekend for a free-spirited “ideas summit” — a gathering of experts, activists, politicians, and celebrities aimed at soliciting innovative ideas to strengthen Australia’s future.

Over the course of two days, some 8,000 ideas were submitted. By the end of the weekend, the number had been narrowed down to 40. The proposals focused on addressing environmental sustainability, strengthening civil society, and generally promoting the common good. They included ideas for:

  • A preventative health agency to be funded by a junk-food tax 
  • Providing incentives to lure Australians to work in rural communities
  • Delivering fresh fruit to schools once a week
  • Making Australia the “greenest” economy in the world by 2020

The ideas summit — the first of what is hoped will become an annual event in Australia — is a beautiful example of how to encourage new ideas and innovative thinking.

Too often we expect bright ideas to emerge from corporate boardrooms, from forward-thinking political figures, or from the latest management books when, in fact, they tend to come from the grassroots. What we need are better ways to harness those ideas — by creating a context for conversations around pressing problems, helping people network, and ensuring that good ideas are given a propert hearing and some exposure in the media.

The Australians have shown that this isn’t an elusive ideal, but a smart and practical way of working for a better tomorrow.

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