When creative and critical thinking skills come together, great things happen. Teams can innovate more effectively, focus their direction, mobilize resources, and get support from senior management for new initiatives. But when either one is used alone, sometimes what promised to be a great session ends up fizzling into a potage of inaction, cynicism, or divergence. Use only creative thinking skills, and you’ll probably get plenty of fantastic ideas on the table, especially if you work in the company of smart, talented people (which you probably do, even if you don’t realize it). The drawback to a mountain of great ideas, though, is that you can’t implement everything, even if you have unlimited time and money to spend. Conversely, employ only critical thinking skills and your discussion can devolve into, well, criticism. Then you’re left no farther ahead (and quite possibly behind).
What can you do to make sure you harness your innovation session’s full potential?
- Set objectives for what you want to achieve in your session. (If you don’t have a destination in mind, how will you know when you’ve arrived?)
- Make sure the objectives are SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound). Otherwise you’re just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.
- Dig deep. Don’t settle for the first 10 ideas you find. Continue until you’ve extracted every possible idea (no matter how crazy!) from your talent pool. When something’s missing, you always find it in the last place you look.
- For every idea, don’t figure out how to get rid of it. Decide what you could do to make it work. Then choose the ones that your organization is most uniquely suited to implement.
- Commit to their success, and ask everyone to decide what action they can personally take, today. Write it down share it with the group. There’s something about an on-paper, out-loud promise that makes it more likely to get done.
Thinking about your success,
Megann and Steve