Sometimes those slightly left field ideas are game changers, don’t kill them.

Sometimes those slightly left field ideas are game changers, don’t kill them.

Introduction

I once worked for a software vendor and part of their offering included ideation. Initially, I thought ideation was another newly created trendy management consulting term that software companies had latched onto. Then I thought, actually, I have used an ideation tool before, when I worked for an ITFM vendor, and we were able to influence and shape the direction of the product.

However, what happens if an organisation stifles ideation and free thinking ?

Ideacide

We all hear the words; collaboration, crowdsourcing, engagement, evaluation, innovation and sharing. These are all great and I am not arguing about these benefits. Ideas can come from anywhere and some of the best ideas come from the most unexpected places.

However, organisations need to be aware of ideacide.

What…?

Actually, to be honest, it’s a concept I recently came across Ideacide, as you can guess, it is the killing of ideas. What stops people contributing, how can you avoid it and what’s the risk ?

Licence to Kill

We all see things that aren’t quite right, or makes no sense whatsoever or see a gap in the market. In reality, how many of these ideas see the light of day and why do we self-censor ?

In fact, do we know when we have even committed ideacide ?

Whilst further reading about the subject I read an article that said the ‘threat system is our dominant system’ (1) and ‘self-criticism is a powerful stimulator of threat processing in the brain.’ (1) What does this mean ? Are we automatically programmed to avoid conflict and threats, hence, we don’t stick our heads above the parapet in case our idea and ultimately us as the individual gets shot down ? If so why ?

I am not claiming to have the answers but over the years I have seen traits of ideacide which I am sure you will be familiar with…

  • It’s just a job and a pay packet so why should I take the risk ?
  • Been there, seen it, done it and got the scars so why bother trying again ?
  • If it’s not broke why fix it ?
  • I am just a small cog in a big machine, who is going to listen to me ?

I am sure at some time in our lives we have all had these or similar thoughts, I know I have.

Imagination Creates Reality

As the 19th century German composer Richard Wagner said ‘Imagination Creates Reality’. If you don’t dream and share those ideas how can an organisation retain its competitive advantage ? I would argue that ideas are the lifeblood of any business, without them it’s just a matter of time before you become irrelevant.

I think this is where an ideation solution helps:

  • It can capture ideas from anyone and everyone
  • Enables you to know who submitted the idea and provide feedback and recognition
  • Rank ideas so as to consider their feasibility, and if they tactical or strategic in nature
  • Alignment to business strategies and goals •
  • Selecting the best ideas for further assessment.

Inexpensive solutions exist to replace the old shoe box converted to a suggestions’ box.  An ideation tool allows an organisation to collate all submitted ideas and assess them. However, you don’t need a software solution, an ideation tool in its simplest form could be the old fashioned suggestion box. Whatever solution you use, it is essential that feedback is provided, or you risk ideacide.

Or as Muhammad Ali would say…

“A man who has no imagination has no wings.”

References (1) British Journal of Clinical Psychology (2014), 53, 6–41

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