I asked for ideas, but…
So you’ve encouraged your staff to come up with innovative ideas.
You hate those ideas. Now what?
In a previous post I wrote about what it’s like to have your boss get all excited about innovation and how to muster your own excitement. This looks at it from the boss’ angle.
What happens when you get ideas that you just can’t get excited about? You asked for input, and now it looks like your staff is right to be cynical – you only want your own ideas.
It’s not too late to set boundaries
Some ideas come out of left field. Let’s open a banana stand!
Set boundaries. How is your team supposed to know where left field even is if you don’t draw lines?
It’s ideal if you do this up front, but it’s never too late. If the ideas you seek are for new product lines, say so up front. Or if you want to figure out how to make the team more efficient but not cross into new service offerings, make it known. If there you don’t have the authority to increase the budget, say so.
I said in the previous post that staff owe it to themselves to get engaged in the innovation process, to contribute their own ideas, not just to develop their creativity, but also nudge the result toward their self interest. Sit down for this – we all operate in our own self interest. In a healthy organization that aligns with the organization’s goals.
It’s your organization – is it healthy? One sign of health is that people know what is expected of them. If you want innovation in a specific realm, ask for it.
Is it unworkable – really?
Sometimes you will get an idea that is on topic but off planet. It simply won’t work.
Sometimes the idea will die a natural death because the group can’t make it work. Nevertheless, that review builds the team’s idea evaluation skills. And the unworkable idea may inspire a workable one later.
Pretend you love it
Check your impulses. We all tend to reject ideas prematurely, even if we promise ourselves we’ll unclench our minds. Explore the idea that is offered, in the group setting. Try the “yes and” approach that adds solutions, not objections. Here’s a thought – it might actually be a good idea.
The most important asset
It may be that the idea has little impact on the organization, but is of value to the person making the proposal. Make sure that person knows they have value to you, too, by at a minimum treating their idea with due consideration. It may be that the small cost of letting that person run with their idea is a good investment in their engagement with the organization.