How to Say Yes to New Ideas Without Going Nuts
The trouble with new ideas are the ones that didn’t work. But, organizations that consistently kill new ideas drive nails in their own coffins.
The bondage of old ideas is they worked, once.
The issue isn’t generating ideas. The issue is figuring out which ideas deserve a chance.
Killing new ideas is like avoiding an imaginary car wreck. The results are feelings of power, safety, stability, even relief. But, the habit of killing new ideas is slow suicide.
Turbulent times and evolving conditions require new ways of thinking.
Why say, “No,” when you could say, “Yes?”
12 ways to say yes to new ideas without going nuts:
- Don’t expect people who resist change to lead change. Resistance stabilizes organizations.
- Let people who love new ideas try them. Ask, “Who can try this?”
- Say, “Yes,” in small ways.
- Minimize disruption with pilot programs and trial runs. Ask, “How can we try this?”
- Evaluate risk. Ask, “What happens if we try this?”
- Limit resources and finances. Creativity finds a way when limitations exist.
- Validate before big commitments or disruptions.
- Align with vision. “How does this take us where we want to go?”
- Align with values. “How does this express who we want to become?”
- Ask, “What happens if we don’t try this?”
- Define the win. “What will be better if it works?”
- Check your gut. “On a scale of one to ten, is it worth a try?” What gut-check number is acceptable for you?
It’s easy to waste time debating new ideas when it’s often simpler to take the next step and see what happens. Talk creates confusion insight comes with action.
Reject “all or nothing thinking.” It’s easy to feel confused and afraid when it feels like everything’s on the line.
Give life to new ideas without killing everything else.
How can leaders get the most from new ideas?
What system for evaluating and testing new ideas would you suggest?
I like your “limit resources and finances” comment. Stage-gating is an excellent and proven way of minimizing the use of resources by systematically forcing ideas to pass hurdles before receiving lots of resources. People who really believe in their ideas and have good ideas will work long and hard to find a way to make them get through the next gate.
Kaizen events are also useful for generating ideas when there is an impasse, but too many of them can wear out even the most engaged people.
Brainstorming is not very effective, as it is fraught with groupthink and political behaviors. Furthermore, attempts to force the brain to be creative in a structured way, which won’t work. The best way to generate ideas is to mull over the problem as a group, looking for root causes – then stop and allow each group member to go do other things. After awhile, an idea will come in a “bed, bath, bus” moment when the mind is idle. That idea can then be taken back to the group for evaluation.
Beware of the lizards, those people who hide under rocks while others are working hard to develop new ideas and make them happen, and sticking their necks out to do so. Lizards are those who come out in the sun to bask and claim glory for good results.
Good leaders reward hard work and new ideas, even if they don’t pan out. Good leaders also spot lizards and stop them from late arrival sun basking.
Thanks Marc. Thanks for bringing lizards to the conversation. I hadn’t thought of the demoralizing effect these glory-stealers cause. But you nailed it. Great add.
Brainstorming in the traditional sense feels a bit out of date. That’s why I wrote that it’s not difficult to generate ideas. Ideas aren’t the issue.
The “idle mind” idea is so powerful…. I’m going to go take a nap.
I love naps….
love the “Lizards” add.. so common
Well this is right up my alley!!
Truth goes through 3 stages, every Truth, everytime, period end if story.
Sometimes Truth goes through these 3 stages quickly, but we as human beings defensively, cautiously enter the world of the unknown.
Thing is as a Paradigm Shifter just know this process and just work with it.
Any new idea might fly or never get off the ground. We never know till we roll it out, see if it is a sound idea or not.
Just take comfort in the process. Stuck to your guns till enough of the idea is out there to see if this dog is gonna hunt.
Early adapters take a lot of arrows, just know it and forge ahead! Why?
The early adapters with CDs being better than cassettes holder on-ers? Pay off for them to hang in there till others got it???
DVR guy early on, sticking with it prove itself solid? How many people use VCR’s now instead of VCR’s!
Truth’s 3 Stages
2. Violently opposed
3. Accepted as self evident
Right now I am starting this process. Bimodal Books are better than ebooks.
Stay tuned!!!!! And for any who realize the economic opportunity catching these changes right……I am gonna need help!!! Lol things go well, lots of help!!
Thanks Scott. Something feels good about the expression “Holder on-ers” I also like, “Hanger on-ers.” Not that I’m preaching the holder on-er message today. Cheers
Lol I am preaching typo check trying to write on these silly phones!!! Lol
How many have VCR’s today compared to Dvrs?
Think I had a couple of others too!! Think I made the point!!!!
Just try new stuff!!! Remember how people felt about flat screen TV’s?
Now who doesn’t have one?
Thing is if one studies and understands human behavior, even if they have typos…..then being initially being scoffed at by the folks means FORGE AHEAD, not stop!!!!
Ebooks, reading…..comprehension and retention 25%.
Bimodal Books….comprehension and retention up to 68%.
Something tells me it is not going to take for Bimodal Books to sail through the 3 Stages of Truth!!!
Already kinda seems self evident, don’t it?
Wonder if the smart ebookers hear the crickets yet? Hehe
The paradox of popularity … people follow people with ideas but are afraid to lead with new ideas. Everything that is popular in society had to start with one person brave enough to try a new idea, a new direction, a new way of thinking. People want to be popular but they don’t want to be different. It takes leaders to be the trail blazers for those who fear no paths.
Thanks Michael. Love that you brought courage to the idea of new ideas. It takes more courage to move forward than to stay put, unless the house is on fire.
Speaking of fire, there’s some research that indicates people will sit in a room that’s filling with smoke if a person who looks like they know what’s going on sits there too. Sutton mentioned it in his new book, “Scaling Up Excellence.”
Leaders partner with colleagues who have new ideas. By asking, “How can we make this work?” it is possible to meet everyone’s needs, promote risk and generate trust.
Thanks Sam. You shared one of my favorite questions. Cheers
I’m learning to ask how does this meet an unmeet need for a customer/employee and see if they have actually talked with the target audience to see how big of an opportunity it really is. Sometimes you find the audience says, sure, that’s a problem but there are these 5 things that are really bigger needs for me right now.
Always know how the idea meets an unmet need in terms of current rate of satisfaction AND perception of importance. Those are two distinct factors (along with known constraints) that help to calculate the value of the possible idea outcome.
KaPow!! What need or problem does this new idea meet or solve.
New ideas might just represent continuous continuous improvement, in that a new idea builds logically on an old new idea and in that way is not radical. We also need to attend to the issues of “interdepartmental collaboration” in that a new idea may also have impacts on another group upstream or downstream that may simply resist “new ideas that we did not develop.”
That kind of thing also puts the old kibosh on a lot of ideas and implementation. I think the real keys are “ownership involvement” and analysis of impact. If we do a good job of involving and engaging people in the shared idea and its implementation strategy, the ownership will make a difference. If we do a good job of looking at the idea from a variety of perspectives and being able to report a variety of positive impacts and minimal threats, we also improve the likelihood of implementation.
Funny, but I just wrote a consultant friend in Singapore asking him for what might be a pragmatic idea for a short series of blogs and then this one falls into my lap. Per usual, Dan, I will reference your ideas and expand on them with a few cartoons and haiku.
“Nobody ever washes a rental car!” and
“Behold the turtle, who only makes progress when he sticks his neck out.”
Then there is TS Eliot:
Between the idea and the reality,
Between the motion and the act,
Falls the Shadow.
So, obviously, “Behold the Turtle’s shadow on the rental car.”
You crack me up Scott!! Thank you. Plus, your comment is brilliant.
The portion of ownership got me thinking about how lousy leader don’t let people own things but successful leaders help people own things. I’ll go so far as to say that some lousy leaders actually are afraid to encourage people to own things. Owners are harder to manage than conformists.
Love the list! #1 is so obvious, yet can cause so much frustration within the group if the LEADER is the one who resists change. As a leader, I really like #2, 8-10. Asking the right questions can uncover issues and provide security for some to move forward. Once the ball is rolling, others will get on board. I may have to blog about this myself in the near future and give you the kudos!
Thanks Vicki. Success centers on people. Who before what.
It’s so cool to instigate the thinking of others. Thanks for sharing.
#8 & #9 are so essential WRT alignment. “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” I use mission, vision, values, goals, objectives as the ends to which all the means (in this case, new ideas) must serve in alignment. For me that is the beginning of the conversation, to include customer/client needs (which should be reflected in the mission/vision/values statements.
Thanks Paul. I love asking those questions… Perhaps #9 is the most important one. Glad you jumped in.
New ideas are so pivotal in the super-competitive world of today. There are so many competitors for our time, efforts, and success, that it is very easy to go with what is “safe and predictable”. Without new ideas and efforts, institutions from Microsoft and Apple to a couple’s marriage will stagnate, flounder, and eventually begin to rot like a log that fell and hasn’t moved.
You nailed the first hurdle, you have to have buy-in and those resistant to change won’t lead it, and if made to it will be a begrudgingly painful process. However, I think another thing that is equally important is to recognize and encourage those who bring new ideas and efforts. The fastest way to kill the innovative spirit of a person or organization is to devalue what they bring to the table, discourage them from being who they are, fail to acknowledge success, and, most commonly, failing to give credit where it is due.
What happens when your top talent with the best ideas gets discouraged, or their manager gets the credit for their work and ideas. They leave and find somewhere they are appreciated.
Thanks John. You’re nailing it. It’s so easy to discourage the very people who will take us into the future if we will let them.
I think part of the trouble is people with new ideas feel disruptive. They’re also dissatisfied with how things are and that offends some management.
I think my imagination began when I was a kid as a cotton picker on my dad’s farm, and when I picked grapes like a madman, and I cut and pitched watermelons onto semi-trucks. In addition to having ideas of getting the hell out of there, I used to think of new, less labor-intensive ways to get the job done. Unfortunately, the delicacy of fruits must be harvested by the delicate hand of man.
The point of my early childhood story is this. I wonder if there is a correlation between creativity (new ideas) and our sensitivity (not only outcome but betterment)? Are all creative people highly sensitive? Or, are ALL highly sensitive people are creative.
For example, we know truly successful persons explore creative talents (God’s gifts to us) and creative skills (qualities we develop) in terms of professional and personal betterment. These persons focus on how identity and confidence impact both motivated and less-motivated people pursue ideas that lead to peak performance and ultimately fulfillment. Leaders are “all-ways” packed full of insights, and are “all-ways” ready and willing to share them with others to make new ideas a thriving reality in their environment.
Here’s another example of high sensitivity. I read somewhere how Management is déjà vu and Leadership is vu déjà. The former is an old idea revealed, the latter is a new idea explained. Déjà vu is when we see an “unfamiliar” situation and get the feeling we’ve seen it before. Vu déjà is apparently the conscious practice of looking at a “familiar” situation as if we’ve seen for the first time and in a fresh new way.
God’s gift as talent, or skills we develop—we are all creative and capable of conceiving new ideas whether they work or not. One thing is sure, if we do not try our ideas–they will stop coming, just like the oranges I used to pick off the trees of my dad’s farm. If they were not picked even one year, they would not be as plentiful the next.
Thanks Marc. Fascinating question re: sensitivity and creativity. If it’s true, we need to nurture creativity all the more.
Love the orange illustration. I live by the guiding principle of giving my best fruit every morning in the belief there will be something there tomorrow.
Great topic Dan!
I agree that continued success for any organization mandates that it improve its ability to innovate. The human texture of the employees at most organizations gives evidence of a diverse group of individuals, with a rich collection of knowledge and experience. Most work environments are brimming with ideas and energy. The challenge is having reasonable process/methods to foster idea collaboration so that creativity can become innovation.
I think it is important to recognize that not all individuals are bottomless wells for generating new creative ideas. And even if they are creative, they may lack the ability to deliver their ideas. I have seen this dynamic referred to as the CARE idea profiles.
Some of my favorite experiences as a professional have been facilitating collaboration workshops with individuals representing all idea profiles and witnessing simple ideas become valuable disruptions for corporations and industries.
Thank you always for the great topics.
Thanks Tim. So glad you stopped in and left a powerful acronym for us. Of course, I’m also thankful for the rest of your comment but I can’t resist the appeal of interesting language. 🙂
The presentation of an idea can influence if it is accepted or not. Understanding your target audience will help determine the launch pad.
Yes. Good points. I am always brimming with new ideas, and sometimes, I need to prevent myself from driving myself nuts!
I often tell people that they need to handle new ideas very carefully, use the silk gloves in the beginning when they discuss them and shape them. Your silk gloves in this case are your language. Some of the ideas that feel crazy just need a bit of time grow up, and if you don’t give them time to mature you will not be able to bring them forward.