Mike Allen Coaching


Using gravity to store electricity

We’d all like to use more energy generated from renewable sources than carbon technologies but one thing traditional power generation has over renewables like solar and wind is that if we need more energy at some point, we can throw more coal or gas into the furnaces, but we can’t make the wind blow or the sun shine. 

That’s where this brilliant idea comes in. When there’s excess energy from the wind turbines it’s used to push heavy electric trains up a hill. When we need energy, but the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining, gravity pulls the trains back down the hill and they become mini power stations and generate electricity.



What can we learn from education to make ideation workshops more productive?

We’ve probably all been in the situation where someone has caught us off-guard and asked, “any ideas”? For as confident that we might be that we ought to be able to come up with ideas, they’ve caught us off-guard, we feel totally un-prepared and our mind goes blank.

The next time you run an ideation session, assume that most of the people feel that way – they’re waiting for others to speak up first. It’s why, all too often, the last 15 minutes of a brainstorming session are the most productive – it’s where the magic seems to happen. The more ideas we see, the more triggers we have to help us, the more ideas we seem to have.

We can address this by borrowing from educational research into the different modes of learning. Educators have long recognized three broad learning modes which can help us run ideation workshops.  


[ezcol_1third]Learning Mode[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third]Features[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end]Solution[/ezcol_1third_end]

[ezcol_1third]Visual Learners[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third]Some people need visual stimulations to unlock great ideas. Changing the scene, seeing colours, examples and pictures helps make connections. The more stimulation they see, the better their imaginations work. [/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end]So, rather start with an empty white-board, prepare a ‘mood board’ or post images on the walls or scatter flashcards on the tables in-front of them.[/ezcol_1third_end]

[ezcol_1third]Auditory Lerners[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third]Auditory people will need to have noise and conversation to be able to produce good ideas. Silence is a killer for creativity for these people. Most brainstorms are designed for auditory people – there’s every chance the boss that decided to have a brainstorm is an auditory person. It’s one of the many reasons why lots of people hate brainstorm sessions.[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end]Although you might be keen to start capturing ideas, these people are likely to be able to need a pre-amble conversation to kick-start their creativity.[/ezcol_1third_end]

[ezcol_1third]Kinesthetic Learners[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third]This last ‘mode’ is perhaps the most under-used. Kinesthetic people will think best when their hands are engaged and doing something. [/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end]Kinesthetic people need to touch and feel things and be given the chance to process or throw things around in their mind to make sure it feels right. If you are looking, for example, for new packaging ideas, bring a selection of innovative packaging into the workshop for the kinesthetic learners or a scale model or prototype, or page through a magazine.They won’t give you quick ideas, they’re best off thinking things through overnight.[/ezcol_1third_end]
If you are reading this and there’s a aha moment – you’ve recognised which most closely matches how you feel the most creative and productive, that’s great. If you’re reading this because you facilitate brainstorming sessions, you need to be aware that you’re likely to have a mixture of ‘types’ in the workshop so you need to serve them all in order to get the best out of the session.

Use color, movement, interaction, conversation and combine all the learning modes together so as to ensure that everybody in the room is engaged with their particular style. This will boost the productivity of your workshops. 

Why we kill our own ideas


Human beings are idea machines. All of us have ideas all the time. Most of us don’t notice because we kill those ideas as soon as we have them.

We’re all guilty of this. In writing down and sharing my ideas on this blog I’m pretty unique – odd some might say, but despite the fact that I’ve documented hundreds of ideas, I too kill most of them. 

Why do we kill our ideas? 

One word answer: risk.

  • What if it’s a stupid idea and I risk looking silly?
  • What if it’s the best idea a human as ever had and I risk someone stealing it?
  • What if it’s already been thought of and I risk people thinking that I’ve stolen it?

The creative part of our brains that triggered the idea is in a constant fight against the parts of our brain that are designed to keep us alive. Human beings, like all living things, are essentially designed to stay alive and our brain’s job is, first and foremost, to keep us safe — to reduce risk.

When it recognises that it’s in survival mode — when we need creativity it serves us with ideas. When it doesn’t, when everything is fine, it kills those ideas because it’s safer to kill an idea than do anything with it.

It’s safer to tell ourselves that we’ll do some more work on the idea before we tell anyone about it.

It’s safer to convince ourselves that it probably won’t work than spend time trying to figure it out.

It’s safer to allow yourself to be distracted by the next brilliant idea.

It’s safer to stick with the status quo than take a risk that our idea might make our lives better. That’s why most of us stick with the status quo even if we believe we’d like to change something about our lives.

The people that seem to have done exceptional things regardless of what that is — building a business, inventing something, getting rich, walking around the World, saving lives, winning a medal at the Olympics — whatever, they didn’t wait for the ‘best’ idea, didn’t wait for someone else to motivate them, they simply acted on their idea

They so say there’s no such thing as a Stupid idea……s&$t express

Yep, this is a thing. 

They send a small parcel of (animal) poo anonymously to someone on your behalf. 

Now, I have a very low threshold for ideas because I do, sincerely believe, that all the best ideas started life sounding utterly ridiculous……but I really can’t decide whether this is brilliant or…..shit 😉


Find out more at www.shitexpress.com

Innovative Insurance Channel through Lottery Retailers

It is estimated that 60% of the population of Brazil – over 105 million people are on low incomes. For those citizens there is a fine line between hardship and crisis as there is no state funded safety net that we benefit from here in the UK.

Pioneering micro-insurance

Micro-insurance can help these families to keep their head above water after an unexpected event, contributing indirectly to the micro-economic balance by ensuring that grocery bills and school fees get paid, and that opportunities for social advancement are not compromised. 

The challenge from the outset was to design a product meeting a very specific identified need to a group of consumers that were already short of expendable income and who were very unlikely to buy via traditional banking networks.

The Idea was to distribute its micro-insurance product through the 12,500 lottery ticket sales outlets. The innovation lesson here is the Design Thinking at the front end in identifying the customer persona, their preferences (and in this case their aversion to traditional banking), budget and behaviors, they took a simplified insurance product to where the consumers go – the same place they buy lottery tickets.

You can read more about the innovation on this link.