I've mentioned in a previous article that I believe anyone with some understanding of the environment can prove an excellent source of ideas.
I won't be making that same claim about the role of "Ideas Farmer". The person responsible for stimulating, harvesting, filtering and launching your organisation's ideas must have a range of behavioural qualities which are a little scarce in combination.
For my money, these are the most important qualities in rough priority order. You'll probably find you can't get them all, but aim for an 80% match ...
1. Infectious enthusiasm — All-important is the ability to imbue colleagues with the desire to think creatively. That's the most fundamental gap in many organisations.
2. Business-savvy — It's best not to pick a functional expert with a narrow field of view, or someone incapable of recognising commercial realities.
3. Drive, and thick-skin — You need someone who won't get stuck when the organisation can't find a way to accommodate new ideas, or when it is dismissive of creative approaches.
4. Emotional intelligence — Building on the earlier quality of enthusiasm, your "Ideas Farmer" needs to work closely with a wide range of people, and be able to keep differing stakeholders in harmony using whatever techniques are necessary.
5. Adapatability — Whilst this person doesn't major on originating ideas themselves, he or she should be skilled at adapting them to fit the circumstances. Often the originator of an idea will remain narrowly-wedded to the original concept, so others must transform it into the most acceptable shape.
6. Ideation — This is the popular name for the quality of originating and being fascinated by ideas. Although by no means critical, it doesn't hurt for the farmer of the ideas to sow a few of his or her own.
Good luck in your search. The picture above is a little extreme – it’s not really as bad as looking for a needle in a haystack, but don’t underestimate the time it might take to find the right individual or group to fit the bill. People with these profiles are usually in demand for other important work.