One of the most difficult tasks in business is brainstorming new ideas. The wonderful workshop I went to yesterday at the Brave New Workshop Theater “Innovating at the speed of Laughter” tackled the problems a lot of companies have with encouraging employees to think outside the box and share their ideas. They point out that one of the biggest hurdles is self-judgment. People are naturally apprehensive about feeling foolish or saying the wrong thing. The often talk themselves out of sharing good ideas because past experiences of idea sharing resulted in a long litany of reasons why their idea won’t work. John Sweeney, co-owner of the theater, conducted the workshop. Sweeney’s idea is for people to change their thinking toward ideas. A positive response can go a long way to encouraging more ideas being shared. One good way to do this is by starting your response to an idea with “Yes, and….” This shows you are both listening and still open to the idea. While every idea may not be feasible or appropriate, you goal here is to encourage the behavior of idea sharing. So you response could be “Yes and I appreciate you sharing that idea with me” or “Yes, and can you tell me a little more about that?” Such a simple change from the usual “Yes, but” can help the ideas keep flowing!
How do you receive new ideas? Do you kill them before the person sharing leaves your desk? What are some ways you keep yourself from staunching the flow of ideas?