If you want to solve intractable problems and create a new future for your organization the key may be in extracting and sharing the promising ideas of your team.
Idea comes from the Greek word ‘idein’, to see. Your brain constructs new ideas when it assembles apparently unconnected pieces of knowledge into a new image, never seen before; the result is predicting new events, conceiving new products, or identifying underlying causes.
How do you extract your ideas?
First, you need to unearth them. Stimulate your brain beyond normal thinking patterns, freeing it to draw new connections.
- Remove normal external stimuli
Go outside or into another room that contains no reminders of your regular work. Or, shut off electronics and put your feet up on your desk. Just think and make brief notes.
- Challenge assumptions
Reword situations or problems to see them from different angles. Think in reverse and ask, “What would things look like with this ideal situation, or if this wasn’t a problem?” Consider underlying conditions. Ask, “Do things have to be that way?”
- Connect the unconnected
Use a tool like a mind map to find connections, by writing down random thoughts, no matter what they are.
- Shift perspectives
Play the game, “If I were ________ (fill in a name), how would I see this differently?”
Share and build ideas
Involve individuals with different perspectives so you can draw upon their ideas. Provide context by outlining the situation as a brief history. State your objective. To create focus, ask a question.
Encourage participants to use similar techniques to create and then share as many ideas as possible. Sometimes, it is better to extract ideas before coming together; chat rooms and other social media are ideal for this.
Quantity is the first objective, so every idea, no matter how wild, is welcome. Allow no criticism while people are putting ideas on the table.
Finding the best ideas
Build the best new ideas by looking at the list on the table, adding concepts, or combining ideas to create new ones.
Restate the objective. Generate a short list of criteria for evaluating ideas.
Then, ask participants to mark their top choices from the long list. Display the most popular. Use the evaluation criteria to outline why they stood out. Discuss and select the most useful few.
Assign a champion for each to investigate and present an analysis of returns and risks.
When new ideas are put into success plans with actions, it builds potential for unprecedented future success.