How to come up with a powerful idea

The ABC's digital media influence relies on good ideas. ABC Innovation's head of strategy, Abigail Thomas, explains how her team develops the early concepts for mobile and iPad apps and even video games in an interview with The Power Index for her profile in our Digital Media Top 10. 

Thomas says it all starts with fortnightly ideas meetings, followed by six monthly off-site days where members of the 15-person strategy team have the opportunity to spend five minutes pitching an idea. The team then votes, with the more popular ideas further workshopped and later pitched to the broader innovation team.

She believes successful ideas come down to an open mind and a willingness to embrace failure as much as success. "Digital is experimental and you can't necessarily define the outcome," Thomas says. "The key is to embrace ideas from anywhere".

That means her strategy team must also be open to workshopping ideas that emerge from other departments, as well as from the ABC's audience.

It also mean the team will frequently have 20 or so ideas on the go at any one time, which may only result in only three being developed.

"You're not going to come up with five successful projects and guarantee no failures, innovation doesn't work like that," says Thomas.

The next part of the process is to achieve stakeholder buy-in from the broader business, something Thomas says takes patience – especially as it involves digital media where gaining support relies more on promoting a project's opportunity, rather than its necessity.

"It's also important to have a degree of flexibility," she says. "The market might change in the middle of a project and you have to be able to say 'I know we were defining it this way, but now we're going to look at it this way'."

After crafting the strategy behind an early-concept idea, the team then hands the project over for development and later to the team who will be responsible for managing its content.

Abigail Thomas is No. 7 on our Digital Media list. Read her full profile here.

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