Managers often are told their teams need to be more innovative, but sometimes the ideas a team proposes just, well, stink. Experts advise how leaders can kill bad ideas without demoralizing the team or impeding new ideas.
There’s nothing more fun or energizing than when a team is bouncing ideas back and forth, each proposal more creative or “out there” than the last.
Then, the manager moves in and puts the kibosh on an idea the team is really jazzed about. Suddenly, the air leaves the room and team members are staring at the manager like he or she is the stuffy parent who just put an end to a teenager’s really cool party in the basement.
While team members can’t leave in a huff and slam their bedroom door, they can withdraw mentally and emotionally. The result is a decline in innovative ideas or even a drop in productivity as team members silently seethe over their idea being scrapped.
But experts say there is a way that leaders can kill bad ideas while still keeping teams focused on innovation.
For example, Jonathan Bendor, professor of political economics and organizations at Stanford Graduate School of Business, suggestsone solution is using a rubric, or scoring system. This way, a team’s ideas “are graded on various dimensions, such as technical merit and market potential,” he explains.
So instead of just saying “This is no good!” the rubrics help problem-solvers determine why they’re stuck and what they can do about it. “Probably the best thing about rubrics is that they shift the process away from egos and personalities, and more toward the nature of the problem itself,” he says.
Other experts echo Bendor’s advice about making sure team members understand that it’s nothing personal when ideas are killed. For example, leaders need to reinforce the message that only marketable ideas can move forward.
Jason Fried, co-founder of 37signals and co-author of “Rework,” recalls a time when his company was building an initial version of Highrise, a Web-based contact management tool.
“We kept saying yes. ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if…Yes! Oh, man, it should totally (continue reading here)