Creative Thinking, Idea Management, and Solution Seekers

I was reading a great article this morning entitled 4 WAYS TO ENCOURAGE CREATIVE THINKING by Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. Very insightful look at how to stimulate ideas within your team and organization.

As I read on and glanced through the comments, there was one from Gregg Fraley that stood out. He added these 3 points to the conversation…

1.) Leaders who make it known that they expect ideas related to organizational challenges tend to get those ideas, so, ask. Former Motorola chair Bob Galvin used to announce a meeting and assign an idea quota, that is, please come to the meeting about marketing with 20 ideas to share. Asking people to think works.

2.) Leaders should invest in Idea Management Systems. The ROI for tracking and managing ideas is well-known and yet it’s amazing how many organizations leave ideas in people’s heads, and leave this to chance. Ideas get lost, leave with people, drop between the cracks, etc. Arguably, ideas are an organizations most precious asset; they should be treated that way. Idea Management Systems can be as simple as a spreadsheet, or as sophisticated as products like Imaginatik or You are not doing formal innovation unless you do some form of idea management.

3.) Leaders should acknowledge ideas, and let people know what actions will be taken on them. People often feel that brainstorms are a waste of time because they never hear what happens to the ideas afterwards. Let them know that ideas #5, #221, and #302 are being put into action this quarter. Another set of ideas will be re-evaluated come budget time, and, the other ideas are appreciated but can’t be used. Sometimes it’s helpful to ask for help in refining an idea — say things like “we liked idea #6, but ruled it out because it costs too much to implement? Does anyone have any ideas on how to reduce cost and make it work?”

Gregg’s points, in addition to those in Michael’s post, are pure gold when it comes to being strategic about encouraging creative thinking and fostering, collecting and implementing ideas.

But let me switch gears just a tad…

I believe that ideas are geared towards solutions and solutions are born out of perspective. It’s in how we see the world and in how we see ourselves that impacts our ability to formulate and voice ideas / solutions. If our outlook is negative then we’re going to have a hard time finding solutions, since solutions require a certain dose of optimism and hope. On the contrary, if our perspective is bent on seeing the positive then we’ll be more likely to be Solution Seekers, people who pursue an answer for making things better.

But what about the people who have ideas but just don’t share them?

There are a lot of people sitting in meetings every day that have ideas and don’t speak up. They may already be creative thinkers or have at least have had a creative thought but they lack the confidence to voice what’s on their mind. The WHY behind their silence can be for a variety of reasons but that silence is what we must also help remove.

Your ideas matter. My ideas matter. Collectively, OUR ideas matter. Sure, we may go through 100 of them before we find 1 real solution but it’s in the continual pursuit of that 1 that we not only change our perspective but who knows… perhaps even the world. 1 idea can do it. Have the perspective to make it count and the courage to share it.

What about you? How do you help unleash creativity in yourself and your team? How do you capture and implement ideas? Share here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Daniel, good post! I'd like to point out that good idea management systems support the thinking you propose. Unsolicited ideas are nice, but for a company to get organizational engagement and strategic alignment, ideas have to be posited toward specific challenges. The idea management system has to be designed to use social media properly to ensure collaboration, but also to "seed" the user community and get the timing right (so the flood of new ideas are spaced out in a way they can be acted on). You mention several idea management systems in your blog entry, I suggest you (and your readers) consider the Cognistreamer Framework and the Innovation Portal it supports. Here expert manager leaders can propose challenges that support management's overall goals.

  • Nice article, i enjoyed reading. Regarding your point about effective idea management solutions, i'd like to recommend this idea management software.