Bring in new ideas for the new year

It's New Year's Eve as I write, and when you read this it will be just three days into 2013, with memories of New Year's Eve and New Year's Day fresh in our minds. Throughout the world, this is a time of reflection and taking stock, of planning and looking ahead. It's a great time to generate ideas for a more successful year. You can use the festivities and customs to stimulate ideas for your business, your team and yourself.

How was your last year? This is the perfect time to review what happened in 2012. What did you achieve? What successes did you have? What didn't you get done, and why? What were your best, and worst, experiences? What really surprised you last year?

George Santayana said: "Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them." Once you've reviewed the past year, think about how to apply what you've learned to this year. In other words, how can you turn the lessons from last year into ideas to make this year better?

The outlook for the new year: Now that you've reviewed the past year, it's time to look ahead. What goals do you have for 2013? What activities, events and experiences have you planned? Think for a moment about these questions, and write down your answers. Then look further and spark your creativity with these questions:

- What if you had to change the world in 2013?

- What if you had to do something that would have everyone talking about you?

- What if this were your last year? What would you want to do? What would you want to leave behind?

One of my ideas for the coming year is to write and publish a book on creative leadership to show people how to realise their inner genius. The book will enable me to make a difference by enabling other people to make a difference.

The New Year's party: Around the world, people spend the last hours of the outgoing year dining and partying with family and friends. Many expect the occasion to be the party of the year. These expectations create stress and arguments among members of the party, thus spoiling the joy of the moment.

- How can we use celebrations to succeed in 2013?

- What if you had to have more fun in the coming year?

- How can you enjoy the moment more?

Some ideas I had were to hold team dinner parties after successful projects, and to use toys, such as boomerangs and Frisbees, to create a more playful attitude during ideation activities.

The New Year's countdown: On New Year's Eve, everyone counts down the remaining hours, minutes and seconds until the launch of the new year, full of excitement and anticipation.

- How can we use countdowns to be more successful in the new year?

Countdowns inspired these ideas in me: Use a 100-day countdown until the launch of the new corporate website, which will create excitement and accelerate development of the site. Use a one-hour countdown before each innovation event to make sure that everyone gets ready on time.

Fireworks: At midnight on New Year's Eve, firecrackers pop and rockets explode in the sky. Originally meant to scare off evil spirits, these fireworks create excitement, fun _ and a lot of noise.

- What if you had to use noise to increase your success in the new year?

- How could you "create a memorable fireworks display" with what you do in 2013?

One idea that I got from this was to enter my company's innovation method into an international innovation competition to gain international recognition and, we hope, acclaim for our meta-innovation tool.

The New Year's Day hangover: For many, the first day of the new year starts with a hangover. It's the price you pay for the previous night's excesses. Other excesses, such as speculative investing, taking excessive risks, and working too much, carry much higher costs. How can you avoid these hangovers?

- In what areas do you tend to be excessive?

- How can you avoid hangovers of all kinds in the new year?

One thing I realised is that I need to take one day off every week. Working every day without a break quickly becomes counter-productive.

Local traditions: Besides the global customs related to the new year, cultures also have local traditions and customs. In Thailand, gifts are exchanged among family and friends to celebrate the new year. In my home country of Germany, people practise Bleigiessen, where lead or tin is melted in a spoon over a candle flame. The molten metal is poured into cold water and forms into shapes that are then used to tell your fortune.

- What if you had to give a present to a key stakeholder to gain success in 2013?

- What local traditions and customs related to the new year does your culture have? What is special about them?

- How can you turn your local customs into ideas for a successful 2013?

Ideas that I got from Bleigiessen: Have creativity students craft individual shapes symbolising the sound of their name. Design an ideation tool that uses the principles of fortune-telling and oracles.

Happy New Year!

Detlef Reis is the founding director and chief ideator of Thinkergy Limited (, the ideation and innovation company in Asia. He is also a lecturer in business creativity and innovation leadership at Mahidol University ( He can be reached at

About the author

Writer: Detlef Reis
Position: founding director of Thinkergy Limited