Let's be clear: It's innovate or die out there.
Ideas are the currency that buys you a starring role in today's workplace. But too many people prioritize ownership over adoption, and watch their ideas waste away as a result. Truth is, you'll be more effective if you work collaboratively with a team to turn ideas into action.
Here's why you should ditch the old ideation silo and give your best thoughts to the group.
Team Buy-In Makes Things Happen
Ideas are often the prelude to change, and change generally rubs people the wrong way. So, how to get around the very human—but avoidable—friction that comes from shaking things up? Go out of your way to gain your team's buy-in on the things that may affect them.
Especially if you're a manager, inclusive decision-making may not only get you a better outcome by melding more minds during the ideation and decision-making processes, it ensures that the team understands the motives and considerations behind new ways of working. Ultimately that means less pushback, a deeper awareness about what led to decisions in the first place, and a more evenly distributed stake in the outcome.
Whether or not you're a manager, this is a good way to conquer any resistance to change.
Tap Into a More Diverse Range of Opinions
A team brainstorm may be no better than a private one if everyone in the group thinks the same way. You need to mix it up.
Study after study has shown that diverse groups—gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, age, etc.—produce better ideas and make better decisions. Cloverpop, a company that tracks companies' decisions to help them manage the decision-making process, found in a two-year study that gender-mixed teams comprising a wide range of ages and geographic representations made better decisions than homogeneous teams 87 percent of the time.
Makes sense. People with different backgrounds have different outlooks, motivations and experiences that shape their contributions at work. Hearing their voices and ideas produces a more well-rounded exchange of thoughts vetted by a wider variety of perspectives.
You may have to do some work to get a good mix of people in the room, but it's worth it. While you're at it, don't discount less obvious diversity factors, like years of experience and time at your company.
See How Ideas Hold Up Against Messy Human Stuff
We're all human, and regardless of race or gender or any of the other factors above, we're simply wired differently.
For example, think about Myers-Briggs psychological types. People have different ways of perceiving and interpreting information, different thought patterns and emotional reflexes. The idealists on your team will have different ideas than the cynics. The process-oriented people will see things differently from the gut-driven types.
Working through ideas with a mix of personalities will help you find middle ground and flesh out a plan of action that works for everyone.
Test Your Assumptions
Idea sharing can be a valuable vetting exercise if everyone's encouraged to speak candidly. Ask people to poke holes in your logic, to prove why your proposal won't work, and to name every single thing that could possibly go wrong. The harder to tear down, the better the idea. Use the feedback to reformulate your idea until you've patched the flaws.
If you're a team lead, this is even more critical. Sometimes you have to design new ways of working but you're not the best person to do so because you're not the closest to the facts on the ground—the people who work for you are. They can probably see the peril that lurks in a new idea right off the bat, and they'll respect you more for recognizing that and hearing what they have to say.
Turn Ideas Into Action
In some ways, the idea is the easy part. The real challenge is executing.
If you think of ideas not as inventions that come out of thin air but as innovative solutions to complex problems, you and your team will have a better foundation for brainstorming.
And in the end, you'll have a much easier time activating ideas if they're vetted by a diverse group willing to provide constructive criticism, even if it means swallowing some pride and surrendering credit for the outcome.