Helping others give you great ideas

Opinions are like noses, everybody has one. However, great ideas are more than personal opinions. Great ideas enable individuals and organizations to fulfill their vision. Before asking for input, explain the vision.

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How to get ideas you don’t want?

I always hate it when a presenter asks me, “How do you think I did?” My preferences aren’t relevant and may not be useful. My nose is no better than your nose.

When presenters ask for feedback I always ask, “What were you trying to accomplish?” It’s surprising how many presenters are stumped. Sometimes they say something stupid like, “I wanted to inform the audience.”  In this case, I advise them to choose a desired outcome that reaches beyond information before they stand in front of an audience and open their mouth. I’ll say something like, “If all you want to do is inform, send a memo.” Usually the conversation ends there.

Great ideas have context.

If you don’t clearly explain the problem you’re solving or the vision you’re achieving, everyone’s opinion is equal. Choosing one idea over another is ambiguous. Without a clear context, you’ll choose the idea of the most powerful person in the room. Or, if the participants share equal status, the most articulate person in the room wins. The decision has little to do with vision. Clear context enables both great ideas and wise choices.

First explain the desired outcome, if you begin with the end in mind, you’ll enable others to give you great ideas.

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How can we help others give us great ideas?