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New Ideas: Pause Before You Pounce

Sand for Your Inbox
April 2006

New ideas can lead to innovations. Often the speed in which we conduct business causes us to make rapid decisions. As a result, we may be robbing ourselves of good ideas. This month’s Creativity Tip provides suggestions on how to nurture ideas by avoiding hasty judgements.

New ideas can be fragile things. We’ve all experienced it… In a meeting you muster up the courage to offer a new or unique thought that you feel will make a difference. The idea immediately gets quashed by a cynic or someone playing “devil’s advocate.”

“We tried that before…”

“That’ll never work.”

“Good luck!”

As quickly as it was described, the idea is killed. A way to prevent the pre-mature ruin of ideas, consider pausing before you pounce.

Matt Kingdon, in his book “Sticky Wisdom: How To Start a Creative Revolution at Work” calls this pause “greenhousing.” This behavior “protects young ideas when they are at their most vulnerable, and nurtures them into healthy growth.” Greenhousing requires three key steps…

  1. Suspend – It doesn’t matter if it’s a good idea or not, don’t evaluate it at first. Hold your judgement. Be positive.
  2. Understand – Put yourself in the shoes of the person suggesting the idea. Listen. Ask questions if you don’t understand. (Supporting questions not barbed questions).
  3. Nurture – Add or build on the idea. Brainstorm more on how to make the idea even stronger. Add value.

(A way to remember these is that they form the acronym S.U.N.)

Next time you find yourself about to pounce… consider replacing the negative comments with positive comments. For example…

Negative
Positive
“That won’t work…”
“That’s impossible…”
“It’s not good enough…”
“We don’t have time for this…”
“Yes, but…”
“What could work?
“What is possible?”
“Forget perfection.”
“What could we stop to make time?”
“A build on that idea would be…”

By replacing judgement with building you allow an idea to grow into something better or even transform into something completely different.

Admittedly, this change in behavior requires practice. But if you integrate this into your daily interactions, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover the ideas you’ve been missing.

Related and Suggested Reading:

I give each of these books my highest recommendation. In fact, I’m so confident… if you buy any of them and don’t like them… I’ll repay the cost of the book!

Change the Way You See Everything: Through Asset Based Thinking” by Kathryn Cramer and Hank Wasiak

Kathy and Hank outline the philosophy of approaching people, places and things from an “have” vs. a “have not” perspective. I’ve purchased 15 copies of this book just to give to folks who I think could use the knowledge!

Sticky Wisdom: How to Start a Creative Revolution at Work
by Matt Kingdon

I could NOT put this book down. It helped inspire the topic of this newsletter. Matt outlines six key behaviors (including greenhousing) that make creativity “accessible to everyone.”

The Ten Faces of Innovation” by Tom Kelley

Tom describes ten roles (faces) people may possess and outlines the value each role contributes to the innovation process.

That’s it for this month. If there is anything I can do to help you or your company, please don’t hesitate to drop me a note.

Take care,
Paul's First Name
Paul
imagination manager
Idea Sandbox

Idea Sandbox • Washington DC

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