HOW TO GENERATE IDEAS
The creation of new ideas is vital to bring fresh light to the decision-making process. When sourcing fresh ideas, strive to achieve the right balance between imagination and practicality. Your first hurdle, however, lies in generating ideas from others.
Brainstorming for ideas
Brainstorming meetings are held specifically to generate new ideas. Gather a group of people – three to eight ideally – and ask each to submit an idea n(or list of ideas) relevant to the decision being made.
As each idea is produced, the group facilitator should record it. Do not reject any ideas, and be sure to value a junior’s idea as highly as that of a senior. The more ideas generated the better, but do not judge or analyze them, or make any decisions during the session.
When making decisions, do not accept blindly tried and tested “conventional wisdom”. Try it yourself, be ruthless in its application, and open-minded about alternatives. It is not wrong to use a conventional approach, but do so after you have fully and fairly examined other new and more innovative ideas. Compare the obvious and easy with the unorthodox and difficult, and you may well find the latter by far and better solution.
Producing new ideas
When setting up any group to generate ideas, choose the participants to reflect differences in expertise and experience. Define the issues and the relevant criteria clearly, and make sure that all ideas are recorded. It is useful to have a facilitator, who does not contribute ideas, to keep the session on course.
Part of the facilitator’s role is to promote lateral thinking. If a seemingly absurd proposition is offered, he or she should use it to promote fresh thinking. When enough ideas have been presented, end the meeting. Select the ideas that are worthy of further investigation, and follow up promptly. You could use the same group of people to evaluate the analyses and advise on the best alternative.
How to encourage the creative process
Generating a relaxed environment in which individuals feel comfortable and unthreatened helps to draw out new ideas. The more closely a set of people work together, the easier it is for them to relax and build up trust in each other. If you are leading a meeting intended to generate new and creative policies, consider using some of the following methods:
- Ask all the attendees to come to the meeting prepared to present two or three ideas each.
- Give everybody at the meeting the chance to air their views in turn.
- Do not allow the creative flow of ideas to develop their ideas.be ruined by imposing too many constraints or making assumptions.
- Do not allow interruptions or discussions to wander too far off the subject in question, but encourage for free, creative flows of ideas and associations.
- Try asking your colleagues to circulate ideas in advance of the meeting this may help those who like to work alone to develop their ideas.
- Provide the group with a few ideas of your own – this will help to direct discussions and act as stimulation if inspiration looks like running dry.
- Try to encourage lateral thinking as well as logical thought to break down and challenge any long-held preconceptions.
- Put together all the ideas generated into clusters so that you end up with groups of related ideas, At this point start to create a shortlist of the best ideas.
- Above all never criticize any of the ideas in front of your colleagues.
- Be disorganized when generating ideas, organized in developing them.
- Promote lateral thinking, but try to develop ideas in a logical fashion.
- Be provocative if you feel that your team is too staid.
- Encourage people to speak out by praising, not damning, new ideas.