Why It’s Never A Good Idea To Kill An Idea

Established companies are usually attractive to new employees because they have a structured method of getting things done. However, even though processes are reviewed regularly to ensure that they are compliant, they may not be reviewed for whether they make sense. Legacy processes and ideas suffer from a lack of freshness and are in dire need of review.

Similarly, many small processes such as conducting meetings or collaboration between team members can also suffer from stale thinking. Getting stuck in idea generation happens when judgment about ideas are passed at an early stage, instead of gathering all the input first. By following a structured brainstorming session, you can bring onto the table some real innovation. And the first step to that is to get everyone to free up their minds. And then, build on each other’s ideas to exponentially multiply the number of solutions to any problem.

Why Are We Meeting, Again?
Valentijn Spit, who works as a senior team consultant and trainer, once facilitated the Idea Generator exercise with a team of 12 psychologists. The team was feeling really stuck because of an overload of meetings in their weekly schedule. They had so many meetings that they spent nearly 25 percent of their time being stuck in them.

It wasn’t just their time that was stuck, but also their thinking. More worryingly, these meetings came to be seen as a “necessary evil” by many of them. When someone suggested skipping a meeting, another person would vehemently argue that they really needed that meeting.

Back To The Basics
Recalling the experience, Valentijn says, “When I did this exercise, it freed up their minds to a great deal. The rule that they could not veto any idea from their colleagues before the process was done made people understand that they could inspire themselves with simple ideas.”

Simple ideas such as, “‘Let’s skip discussing the minutes of the previous meeting” were raised. The practice of discussing the minutes of the previous meeting was not just time-consuming (it took nearly 15 minutes), but it also sucked their energy as people were discussing totally irrelevant things on the minutes.

Through the Idea Generator exercise, they decided that they didn’t have to skip meetings entirely. Instead, they needed to change the way they organized it. Simple ideas like this got the energy back and helped them focus on the things that really needed to be discussed. 

First Things First
Another really big frustration about these meetings was that the least important topics were always discussed first and that the most important ones fell off the radar and were postponed to another meeting two weeks later.

So, someone suggested that they re-prioritize the topics on the meeting agenda - with the most important topics getting discussed first and the least important ones getting pushed down. So when time ran out, at least the most important topics were discussed and the least important ones were just dropped off the schedule with no problem.

Why “We” Is Better Than “Me”
When you fall into a routine, it is easy to get stuck in the ways you think too. When someone decides to do away with a practice, it is likely to be met with resistance because people, very often, become vested in their ideas. Opening up your mind with simple exercises (like word association) unleashes constructive energy within the team and makes way for the free flow of ideas.

When everybody is invited to offer their input on what should be the next step in a solution and when no idea is prematurely shot down, it enables multi-faceted solutions to emerge. Such collaboratively constructed solutions often tend to be more creative and experimental than those arrived at by a single person’s mind.


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