Opinion: How to get big by thinking small

by Tomisin Ajiboye


…the bigger an idea, the more likely it is that competitors will discover and counter it. If the idea involves a major process change behind the scenes, it is often copied even more rapidly.

I was examining a friend’s library one day and it surprisingly struck me how small tips from each of the books therein could make one a genius. These small tips are not even considered as important or relevant when compared with the title of a book or the author. I couldn’t help but bring myself to the conclusion that many small things make up big things. Small drops of water, they say, make an ocean. John Mason wrote that the “‘combination of small jobs left undone, become a hard work”. Interestingly, the word ‘Small’ is an important detail of our lives, therefore I am going to apply it to one of my Business Illiteracy Theories propelled in my mind and I have set few great records with it in its applications.

Let’s see: You’re overworked, underpaid, out of time and very much in need of powerful new ideas to grow your business. Not just any ideas, but BIG ideas. GAME CHANGING ideas. NEW product and service ideas – the kind you will recognize as ‘hair-raisingly’ brilliant. You know… the NEXT BIG THING… or if not the next big thing then at least the thing next to the next big thing. Daily, you rack what’s left of your brain. You brainstorm. You benchmark. You strategise. You beg your team. Yet nothing seems to work. You think about bringing someone in from the outside (wherever that is) to facilitate an ideation process, but it all seems so clunky, so forced, and so time-consuming. If only it was simpler. Guess what? It is.

Business leaders are always looking for the next breakthrough idea – the “home run” that will put them well ahead of the competition with one swing. Because of this, the systems and policies they put in place are aimed at big ideas. Few business managers realize how severely limiting this is.

One thing I have discovered in my little experience in business is that: the bigger an idea, the more likely it is that competitors will discover and counter it. If the idea involves a major process change behind the scenes, it is often copied even more rapidly. No matter how hard a business manager works to bring up big cost-cutting ideas, they are unlikely to develop much sustainable competitive advantage from them. While the big ideas are necessary to keep up with competition, they are not always sufficient to get ahead and stay there.

Small ideas, on the other hand, are much less likely to migrate to competitors. They are often site – and situation – specific, and therefore of little use outside your business anyway. Small ideas also enable an organization or business to pay exceptional attention to detail. In many important aspect of business- such as customer service, responsiveness, quality and managing costs – excellence means getting details right, which in turn can be called creativity. It is simply impossible to improve performance beyond a certain level without creating small ideas. And a superior ability to handle details, in turn, raises the level of creativity and complexity an organization can deal with effectively. In other words, this can allow an organization to do things its competitors literally cannot do.

Perhaps the ultimate irony is that managing small ideas is the most effective way to get big ones. If small ideas are the goal, the challenge becomes one of designing a cost-effective process to evaluate and implement them.

Stop looking for that big ground-breaking idea; they only give room for your competitors to displace you in a battle field. You need not fight any more, exploit your creativity and start thinking small ideas and in no time, your business will be an icon to watch out for.


Tomisin Ajiboye is into idea management and problem solving. He is a Creativity Consultant at Solvere Word Consult. He is the founder of #InspireMonday (www.inspiremonday.com) & Creative Entrepreneur Organization.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail