MANAGING IDEAS TO KEEP THEM FLOWING
--- 4-minute read --- | Type: Corporate Creativity for Managers
Did you know that Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios said in his book Creativity, Inc. that opening his office’s door was one of the game changers in developing creativity and innovation in his company? And see where that led them!
In my seminars, conferences, books, online classes, and in everything I teach about creativity, I make it my duty to put the light on the fact that we all have an inner genie, deep inside. We have to acknowledge him and take care of him to develop our creativity as individuals. And this subject becomes even more obvious when we work in teams and have to exchange ideas with colleagues, whether they are higher on the corporate ladder or not.
Below is a simple list of questions that will help you foster creativity and innovation in your company:
-- Please think twice on each question, and give an honest answer. Are you ready?
#1 Do you trust your teams and colleagues’ inner genies?
I know it is a weird question, but think about it; when someone gives you an idea or shares a thought, what is your usual reaction? What do you tell him/her? How do you think your response makes them feel? Are your words and actions reflecting a certain trust in their capacities?
Because we all have unique ideas, whether it is from the field or our reflection, we are all fragile creatures with a (most often untamed) ego. So, if you are censuring someone or not encouraging them enough, you are shutting creativity down, which means you are missing on tremendous innovative opportunities.
Your colleagues can bring you so much— a lead, an enhancement, a risk you haven’t seen coming, a possible development of a service, a new way to use software, a twist on your business model, a behavior that you might capitalize on. When you don’t foster open dialogue, you miss out on so many opportunities!
#2 Is the door to your desk open to new thoughts?
· How do you welcome new ideas?
What could you change?
· If you were an employee, would you (honestly) feel like it is easy to bring a new idea to your manager or HR director?
· How do think your colleagues feel when they share an idea with you?
If the answer is not “encouraged,” then you can’t be surprised that your team members don’t seem to be inventive. In all likelihood, they’re plenty creative. They’re just not sharing their ideas with you.
#3 Do you continue to encourage them when their ideas are really, really bad?
-An idea is evident but obviously not developed? It doesn’t matter, but the effort of sharing does. It could be that the next one is a killer!
-Also, your employees may not know how to find new ideas or how to pitch you their ideas. How can you help them?
I’m not saying that you aren’t doing it. I just want to make sure you have all the odds on your side. So, when I say encouraging, I mean actively encouraging them. Do you communicate about the need to hear from them?
You have to remember that one idea alone might not look very impressive, but once it is shared with the rights people, it can quickly become a game-changer project! For it to work, you have to create the right atmosphere and establish encouraging habits for your team and colleagues.
THE RIGHT BRAINSTORMING ATMOSPHERE
· Could you have a small innovation group in your company with employees you already have that would be curious to help on this side? (It is a rhetorical question by the way—of course you can!).
· How can you attract your employees and reward them for doing this?
· Can you occasionally organize quick brainstorming sessions with a heterogeneous group on a specific subject to collect new leads?
10 minutes can be enough!
· When someone shares an idea during a brainstorming session, what judgment do you have on it? Can you catch yourself on the way you are reacting to them?
The best way to brainstorm, whether it is alone or with others, is NOT to judge ANY ideas! It doesn’t matter if they are horrible—you and the others can build ON those ideas later. It is crucial to write them down first and keep a flow of free expression going. The last thing you want is to face a couple of people with an empty look and a defeated attitude because that is a point of no-return!
The main thing to have in mind is that many of us don’t like to be rejected, and we all love to be valued. I know you know, but we tend to forget it is that easy sometimes. Our creative ego needs reassurance, and your employees will love to hear that THEY are at the heart of the company. So, you don’t only need to be kind to yourself and your ideas but also with other’s ideas and egos. Treat their thoughts as you wish someone you admire would treat yours.
This will push and encourage your employees to share AND FIND more ideas. If you open your mind to them, they will open their mind to you and other possibilities.