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How to find, create and share great ideas from your own company

Innovatorium, The Mixing Chamber and TED Institute can help you find your creative muse.



In the age of information, great ideas are king. Great ideas distinguish innovative companies from the average ones, the Googles from the Bings, or the Teslas from, well, everyone else.

But where do these ideas come from? You might try looking for great new ideas from bestselling business books, deep dive articles, and invigorating TED talks.

Sometimes you can gather great ideas from looking at what others in your industry are doing. In the now famous example of Apple, the idea for the easy-to-use graphical user interface came from the innovative work the execs saw in Xerox PARC. The rest is point-and-click history.

Or these great ideas come from within your own ranks. The great idea for Apple’s elegant fonts came from within the company. Steve Job’s prior experience with calligraphy changed Apple’s fonts and the brand forever so that art, beauty, and design forever became associated with its products.

But if you’re not Apple or Steve Jobs, how do you find, create, and share great ideas from within your own company? There are three groups who can help you find your creative muse.


If you’re looking to develop great ideas in your company, the Innovatorium might be your program. Located on the beautiful University of Michigan campus, the Innovatorium is a unique retreat for companies looking to find the next great idea and to build a sustainable culture of ideas.

Developed by the “Dean of Innovation” Jeff DeGraff, his research lab works with Fortune 500 company leaders, community leaders, foundations, and educational institutions to develop sustainable growth.

The program is based on DeGraff’s four ideas for innovation: creative conflict, accelerated failure, continued apprenticeship, and self-authorizing behavior.

The Mixing Chamber

If you’re looking to find and share the best ideas from within the ranks of your own company, the Mixing Chamber is for you.

Developed by the organization No More Boring Meetings, the Mixing Chamber is a service that helps businesses find the people with the best ideas in the company. These great ideas might come from anyone, at any level, and not just from your leaders.

After the people with the best four ideas have been identified, these four people will be coached by speech professionals to deliver the ideas directly to your company in an internal TED-style event.

TED talks for great ideas

Listening to TED talks can help you create great ideas. (Photo by Modrac via Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0)

TED Institute

Or if you’re looking for external exposure, the TED Institute might be your thing. The TED organization not only produces the famous TED talks, but they also help companies find their own innovative ideas.

While individuals can apply to the competitive TED Residency program and attend the TED headquarters for 14 weeks to incubate new ideas, serious organizations can also hire TED’s services directly through the TED Institute program.

Once hired, the TED Institute works closely with each speaker to curate and provide one-on-one development of the new ideas for a talk. The culmination of the institute is an event produced, hosted, and filmed by TED.

DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.

Ken is the Senior Vice President and Chief Learning Officer at BigSpeak. Ken's main focus is marketing and partnering with Fortune 1000 clients to create specialized consulting programs with effective leadership development objectives. Ken is also responsible for BigTechnology, an initiative to develop best-of-breed learning management systems for BigSpeak's clients. Ken's background includes working with KPMG as a technology and management consultant, co-founding a technology company (cloud computing), co-founding an international, vertically integrated manufacturing company and working as Executive Vice President at a boutique asset management firm charged with operating real estate and hospitality assets. Ken holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership from the University of California, an M.B.A. from Babson College and earned his B.A. in Communication and Applied Psychology from the University of California.