Who created the Idea Friendly Method

SaveYour.Town co-founder Becky McCray explains how she came up with the Idea Friendly Method.

Two women seated in front of a laptop
Ruth Hendy and Becky McCray discuss new website technology at a 2003 meeting of the Oklahoma Business and Professional Women. If only everyone was as open to new technology as Ruth!

Since the 1990s, I’ve brought new technology into organizations that were pretty stuck in their ways. Back then, I set up new computers, websites, chat tools and email accounts.

Some people were excited and receptive to new tools, others were not open at all. You’ve probably run into the same reactions. 

There were always a few people in power who resisted. They told me I needed to work my way up the ranks, to pay my dues before they would listen to me. They slowed down my ideas. They attacked, blocked and even dismantled my work as soon as they could. 

Because of how formal organizations work, it only took a few people to stop progress. 

By the 2000s, my favorite projects were the ones I did outside of the old formal structures. 

  • The “shop small” project that rallied local merchants. 
  • The wine tastings in an empty building during the arts festival. 
  • The gathering of hundreds of small town people who were using social media in new ways. 

When we finished a project, we were all free to move on. 

The old guard couldn’t stop us from trying our ideas.

I started sharing this way of doing things with others, pulling together ideas from innovation, crowdsourcing, change science, community, rural development, behavior motivation, social capital and open networks. I listened to thousands of rural people in person, in my email and through our survey. 

In fall of 2015, I shared the first draft of the Idea Friendly Method with an audience. At the end of that talk, they rated themselves as 17% more optimistic.

This was when Deb Brown was working as the director of a small town chamber of commerce, coping with a lot of formality and a strong Old Guard mentality. It was the perfect learning lab for applying Idea Friendly.

Deb saw ways to make small Idea Friendly changes to the work she was already doing. Her real world perspective helped me strip away complications and simplify. 

Deb says that the Idea Friendly method helped change the trajectory of her town. Of course she still faced opposition from the Old Guard in her town, but she was able to rally even more positive people to action. 

Deb Brown and Becky McCray, during the 2015 visit where they came up with the idea for SaveYour.Town and just jumped in with the first experiment.

Deb and I co-founded SaveYour.Town. Together we’ve taught the Idea Friendly concepts to even more rural people through our writings and videos, our presentations and speeches, and by meeting with people in their own towns.

Real people just like you give us valuable feedback about how it works in their communities, and we keep refining the method.  

That’s how the Idea Friendly Method came to be simple and practical. It is a living method applied every day in towns just like yours.

Idea Friendly Next Steps

Deb and I took the best practical steps for implementing the Idea Friendly Method, and put them into a 30 minute video. It’s called Idea Friendly Next Steps.