Sadly, many great ideas go completely unnoticed. They almost come to light, but some little aspect of communication or teamwork stands in their way. You don’t realize it until someone else brings the idea to fruition and then you hear somebody – an employee, a co-worker, or even yourself – say, “Hey, that was my idea!” So how do you make sure that you nurture a good environment for ideas to grow? Here are some tips:
Encourage honesty and trust.
If your employees and co-workers don’t feel like they are communicating in a safe environment, they probably won’t put forth their best ideas. If they don’t expect an honest reaction when they share their ideas, they probably just won’t share them at all. If they don’t trust what you or other team members are going to do with an idea, they probably won’t put it out there. So creating a safe and comfortable work environment can go a long way toward helping to nurture the best ideas.
Know that more than one idea can be “the one.”
That may sound like a paradox, but it’s true. Sometimes, the winning idea is not a single idea but a combination of two or more ideas. Although it is good to narrow your focus and recognizing that some ideas are good and some are simply not, it is important to remember that combining a few good ideas can often make for an even better idea.
Examine past failures.
Think about times in the past where you have latched on to what seemed like a good idea but ultimately proved to be a failure. Examine exactly why that idea didn’t come to fruition or didn’t come out exactly as planned. Understanding your past mistakes is key to not repeating them – just ask any history teacher.
No matter how completely stupid an idea sounds, be polite in dismissing it. More importantly, make sure that your other employees understand that everyone’s ideas deserve respect. Often, the people who come up with the really weird ideas are the same people who have the creativity to come up with the really good ideas. That means that it is important to make sure that people feel comfortable sharing their ideas and don’t reflect back on past negative reactions. You don’t have to like every idea and you don’t have to act like you like every idea, but it is important that you avoid ridiculing ideas that seem ridiculous at first glance.