Does anybody in your team come up with an idea? (I’m not saying a good idea), the easiest way to end the conversation is simply ask “But what about…” followed by your intellectual vision about the topic that was created in seconds in your well defined brains.
This blog holds (in my humble opinion) two brilliant videos about how you can kill innovative ideas. I guess everybody has people in their environment with a primary response that is negative if you come up with an idea. Either if this idea is for new product, a new service or just simple improvement for your test process, all ideas can lead to innovations. The goal of this blog is to let you think about your primary response on ideas. First of all, watch at least one of those two short videos about killing innovative ideas. Both present the same.
These cavemen are not able to step out their own limitations that are created by what they know from the past. The best part is when they come with the solution to create green fire. It’s not hot, hasn’t the color of blood. Whilst the brilliant idea was the one with the red color for wild animals, and the hot temperature for cooking and heating. The good idea is turned into something useless!
This sounds frustrating doesn’t it? What would your response to new ideas be? Could you imagine a situation in which people come up with a good idea? Have you really listened to what they were saying or mean? Are you asking questions like, “what do you mean with…” or is your primary response :“But what about…”
Negative questions lead to nothing
A good idea can be the start of an innovation. If you challenge the creator of the idea with questions that deepen the idea it can grow to an innovation. Questions starting with “But what about…” are often showstoppers and are killing the idea.
Some examples: But what about the planning? What if we cannot cross the finish on time? What about the budget which we have already overrun? What about the efforts?…this will cost us weeks of research?
However good intentions you have with these question, (and believe me, they are so true), in the early spring of an idea they will lead to the end of a conversation. If this happens a couple of times in for example test process improvement projects, people will stop generating ideas and the improvement process will stop immediately.
Positive question can lead to innovations.
Thomas Koulopoulos says in his blog:
“Great ideas are the seeds of innovation, but they are not innovation itself.”
Albert Einstein also said: “imagination is more powerfull than knowledge” I think this is definitely true, but the thing is in this case you have to challenge the other. As mentioned before, and idea often isn’t directly an innovation itself but can be the beginning of something really big and exciting.
Our primary questions are often created by our own limitations.
Cynthia Barton Rabe has in her book “The Innovation Killer” a subtitle that fits in this situation “How the burden of what we know limits what we can imagine” (I guess she studied Einsteins work too)
Things from past, experiences, things we learned before, and sometimes also human insecurity burden the things we want to imagine. If somebody else comes up with an idea we start asking questions from our limited point of view.
People often think that innovations are dedicated for a very small group of people within an organization. in my opinion ? This isn’t true, or is it? People in every role and in every team can create idea’s that can be the seeds of innovation. How else do you think all great inventions were made? For instance sport car brand Tesla, Well known for its great designed sport cars, but now leader in electronic vehicles…. Try to guess how much resistance he received on going into the flow stream. But it was the idea of one of their technicians who saw a future revolution. Thank goodness they listened to him! But how many innovations never made it to the shelf but landed in someone’s desk leaving a disappointed worker…..
Cynthia Barton Rabe has in her first chapter a phrase I agree with: “The point of the definition is to emphasize that the ability to think innovatively should be a goal for every function in an organization—not just the new product or technology development team.”
What are your questions?
What type of questions are you asking? Are you asking questions that will challenge the others? Or question that kill the seeds of innovation?
I think if we can create in our teams an environment in which everybody feels comfortable by asking the right question it can lead to great innovations.
I leave you with two famous quotes, and look forward hearing back from you all!
“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”
- Einstein -