ALTHOUGH THE SPOOKY traditions of the soon-arriving "All Hallow's Eve" are not celebrated widely in the business world, they can provide us with interesting metaphors and analogies for some of the challenges organizations often face when trying to come up with new ideas and drive innovation.
In a world where innovation is an essential ingredient for business success, the ability to generate fresh, new thinking freely and consistently is crucial. Ideas are the lifeblood of business. Without them, you have nothing. So, it is important to eliminate any impediments to effective idea generation swiftly and handily.
Here are a handful of waring signs that suggest entity influences might be affecting your organization's best thinking and creative problem-solving abilities negatively--and what to do about it.
Dungeon masters are running your brainstorming sessions. In an ideal world, the leader of a brainstorming group is inspiring, supportive, fair, and open-minded. He or she encourages participation by creating a safe, supportive environment for sharing new and different types of ideas and perspectives. However, not every leader is so skillful, or puts the best interests of his or her group first For every well-trained and masterful Yoda-like leader, there is a Darth Vader lurking in the conference room next door.
These "dark overlords of ideation" come in many different guises: some possess dominating personalities that rule and control their groups instead of inspiring and guiding them; others demonstrate an insatiable appetite for more and more ideas, and relentlessly pressure their group to generate vast quantities without end.
We once knew a dungeon master who would squash creativity in every brainstorming session by asserting at the start of the meeting: "You know how they say there is no such thing as a bad idea? Well, that's not true. There are bad ideas. Ideas so bad they should never be spoken out loud.... Okay, what have we got?" The result, of course, was that few participants had the courage to utter even one risky, unconventional, and potentially innovative idea.
The specter of negativity and judgment looms in air. "That's a dumb idea. We tried something like that before--it didn't work. The boss will fins us for even suggesting a wild idea like that." Sound familiar? That is the sound of fledgling ideas being massacred. Nothing will kill a group's idea generation efforts faster than negativity and judgment creeping into the...