Ideas are the fuel that has taken us from cave-dwellers to where we are now. Ideas are the source of inspiration for new companies and growth in established companies. If these things are true, then why do companies do everything in their power to suppress their employee’s ideas to the point of not encouraging, investigating or implementing these ideas for fear of repercussions? I believe that companies are filled with brilliant people. However, brilliant people exist in companies not just at the top but at all points in the organisation from the top executives to those who answer the phones, manage the numbers, and replace the light bulbs. There are hundreds of brilliant ideas brewing in your people’s minds at your company…right now. What does your company do to help nurture their ideas and help grow them into valuable innovations?
When was the last time you met with one or all of your team and listened to their ideas. And I mean listen…..not just go through the motions with a view to telling them they are wrong? If you’re typical it’s likely it wasn’t very recently. I think that that one of the real reasons behind this is that we have become accustomed to seeing the brilliant ideas of others as threats to our own…something to be feared and condemned, instead of combining them to create a great innovation.
Ideas are like flowers; given the right environment, the right encouragment, the right nourishment…they will bloom into beautiful things. Step on them and they will whither. Fail to water or feed them and they’ll die. Deny them light, and they’ll fade.
There are three main barriers to allowing effective ideas to bloom at the workplace(The three P’s):
When asked why they fail or succeed at what they do one of the top answers will be “because of the people at work”. In an environment of insult, disrespect, or closed-mindedness, ideas cannot bloom. However, if team members are respectful, encouraging, and open-minded, ideas will inevitably be abundant. This is especially true for the boss. One can have all the encouragement in the world from fellow employees, but if the boss is critical or unreceptive, they will never reach their potential…and will soon stop trying.
It’s been jokingly suggested that Policies were invented to make people miserable. Policies do have a purpose, but should not be used as a weapon to stifle ideas. How do you think it comes across to your people when a great idea is ignored just because it contravenes a company policy. A sure way to wipe-out creativity in your organization is to apply company policy strictly to the process. Perhaps consider opportunities to change or suspend company policy from time to time to nurture and encourage ideas.
Practices (or your company culture) are the straitjackets that companies wear to protect themselves from change. Have you ever heard: “We don’t do that here.” or “We’ve always done it that way”? How do you think that affects everyones creative process? The impact of change is all in how you frame it with those affected by it. Therefore, for a new idea or innovation to work, then be sure to explain, in specific terms, to those that are affected how it will better the jobs of others, improve customer service, drive company growth…helping them become more. It helps if you ask: What’s in it for them to support or champion a new idea, approach, or process? If you can answer this question with confidence it is worth implementing a test of your new idea.
What do you think?
Thanks to andybahn for the image