II=IO – one of most important equations in a Professional Service Firm

We spend a lot of time these days tracking metrics all over the place, utilisation, revenue per head and so on. We are also increasingly talking about innovation as a source of competitive advantage but do we really understand one of the most important metrics for this? Quite simply II=IO* or in a more easily digestible form ‘ideas in equal ideas out’.

About 9 months ago I decided to make a few changes, I became obsessed with how I used my time and one of my conclusions was that I would read and absorb as much information as possible in my ‘dead time’ namely the commute to and from work. This meant that train journeys were now always used meditating (still working on this one…), reading a book or making notes on a podcast and the 20 minute walk to work was now an opportunity to learn. My ‘ideas in’ side of the equation went up significantly.

After a period of some months, I started to notice the other side of the equation shifting too. I just had way more ideas. I was making new connections between things and started to see life through new lenses, I performed better in meetings (well that is my perception…) and found ways to apply some of the great ideas from my learning to new topics in my own field.

This also caused me to reflect on times in the past where I felt I was at my most creative and actually delivered the most value. Low and behold in those times my ‘ideas in’ quotient was higher than normal. I was in the midst of my MBA and deep in learning from the course (or even more importantly others on the course) or I was a member of a particularly diverse and high performing team.

If you are running a PSF or a team within one, think carefully about the equation. Is your teams ‘ideas in’ oxygen supply becoming increasingly scarce or even being managed out in pursuit of other metrics? Of course, there is always a balance to be found, but find every opportunity you can to create the environment for more ‘ideas in’….I promise you will get more out of it…


*I first came across this concept from one of Tom Bilyeu’s ‘ask me anything’ video’s (check out ImpactTheory.com).