Question: does Google influence our daily lives more than government?

Maybe.

Every day we make decisions.

Decisions in work. At home. Some trivial. Some not.

So how many of those decisions are influenced by the search engine? If you’re reading this blog you obviously use the internet. So I’d guess quite a few.

It’s hard to believe that this tech firm – which started life in a garage back in 1998 – has embedded itself so deeply in our day-to-day lives in 2013.

For me, Google is one of the most influential entities on the planet and an incredible example of how creative thinking can lead to amazing success.

And that’s what this blog post is about. Converting creative thinking into tangible success.

So where does creative thinking start? Well, maybe Steven Johnson is a good person to ask? Take a look at this film…

I’d agree that connectivity with other thinkers, and time to think, are conditions that can help innovative ideas form.

But for me, the idea is just the start. Great ideas don’t become reality without hard work.

And maybe the greatest visionaries in human history were as much about commitment and stamina as anything else.

Albert Einstein. Steve Jobs. Nikola Tesla. William Blake. They were all blessed with extraordinary creative vision.

But they didn’t spend too many days with their feet up either. They worked hard to turn their ideas into reality.

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct World Heritage Site

There are some incredible examples of creative thinking coupled with hard work right here in Wrexham County Borough.

Take Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Whenever I have visitors, I always take them to see this amazing World Heritage Site.

Completed by engineers Thomas Telford and William Jessop in 1805, it’s the highest navigable aqueduct in the world.

There are two things that always strike me though.

Firstly, the incredible vision of Telford and Jessop. This massive structure – with its beautiful symmetry and radical construction methods – began life as an idea.

Secondly, the focus and determination needed to see it through (it took 10 years to complete).

So what am I trying to say here?

Well, I think I’m trying to say that without hard work, creative thinking doesn’t amount to much.

You have to take hold of new ideas and commit to making them happen.

Wrexham is lucky. It’s a creative place with a tremendous work ethic, so it’s good at turning ideas into reality.

And sometimes the best ideas start small.

Take Moneypenny – the UK’s first outsourced reception and call-answering service.

It started as a small enterprise in Wrexham in 2000. The concept worked and the business grew.

Now it employs over 300 people and has been named three times in The Sunday Times newspaper’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.

It’s a great example of entrepreneurial vision and hard work delivering tremendous success.

But there’s something else that strikes me about successful ideas. The people and organisations behind them have courage.

They’re brave enough to risk failure. Mature enough to cope with the pain of falling short.

Even the greatest innovators in the world have one or two failed ideas in the locker. The fact is they didn’t let it stop them. They kept dreaming, thinking, creating.

To quote Apple co-founder Steve Jobs: “If I try my best and fail…well…I tried my best.”

And maybe failure is a key part of the creative process? Trialing new products and concepts in a ‘safe’ environment is certainly the norm.

You test something until it breaks, work out why it broke – and then make it better before you unleash it on the world.

But there’s only so much testing you can do before you have to put your idea out there for people to judge.

Sometimes, it doesn’t work out.

History is littered with highly anticipated products and ideas that – despite promising trials – didn’t quite set the world on fire when they were launched onto the market. This video clip examines a famous example.

Of course, it’s possible to involve customers in testing and product development to extraordinary levels. Software developers are a great example.

They often issue a ‘beta release’ of their software – a kind of pre-final version that they hand over to customers and say: “Here it is. Try it out. See if we can make it better.”

But even then, there’s no guarantee your product will be a rip-roaring success.

Failure is always a potential component in the creative equation – part of a ‘test and learn’ cycle that underpins the realisation of all great ideas.

To put it another way, successful concepts are often built on other concepts that didn’t quite work.

So here’s my conclusion.

Town or city. Public sector or business. Group or individual. It doesn’t matter.

Turning new ideas into reality demands hard work, courage and the strength to treat set-backs – if they happen – as part of the creative journey.