Monday, January 3, 2011

Putting the lid on Creative Juice

I got inspiration for this post from  Seth Godin's post. His post was short and sweet, to the point, just like most of his thought provoking content. That's probably why so many people follow him. Here's my expanded thoughts on it.

Serving in the Military for over 20 years I've encountered, "That's not how we do things here" comment more then once. It always left me feeling like my opinion or expertise was not wanted nor desired. On a few occasions, the statement was actually backed up by real reasons or data that supported why it wasn't a good idea. Usually, it was stated because people and organizations do not like change. It's uncomfortable, it knocks people and processes out of rhythm and at first, looks like it's not going to work due to the awkwardness that is associated with change. Let' examine ways we can say, "That's not how we do things here" less and avoid turning off our people's creative juices.

  • Listen: Yes, simply really listen to people's ideas, don't automatically shut them down. I've encountered leaders who see this as a Pride thing. They are afraid to embrace others ideas, they feel as if they are giving away power by utilizing others. When they do though, they are often the type of leader who takes the credit for the idea, instead of deflecting it back to the actual source. I always celebrated my people's wanting to improve themselves or the organization and ensured that they received the credit for it. 
  • Feedback: Sit down with them and go over the pro's and con's of the idea. Maybe, you can tweak their idea a little, to make more workable. If it's something that you or the organization has considered previously, explain to them why the idea was not implemented. Yes, I know, this takes time. But the dividends paid for taking the time can empower people to continue looking and giving ideas for improvement.
  • Presentation: If after a review of the idea show's that it could work, have the person put together a presentation to present to the organization for consideration. This could be as easy as a point paper, power point presentation or even an detailed email. Whatever the outcome, it will help them think the idea through and help them in preparing to interact with their superiors.
  • Praise: Regardless of the outcome, make sure you lift them up for coming forward with their idea. Maybe, it's not something that can be implemented at this time. However, maybe after some other processes are in place, it would work. Encourage them and ensure they get any credit that is given. 

Our people want to improve, they also want to be a part of the solution on how to get better at what we do. When you shut them down, it is discouraging and defeating. Not all of their ideas will work or be great. If you handle it with professionalism and some gentle mentoring, you will encourage and lift them to continue to try and improve. A win, win for all involved.

Has anyone ever told you, "That's not the way we do things around here?"

How did it make you feel? 

How do you handle your people when their idea is not the right fit or workable? 

Please share your thoughts, comment, we want to know.

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