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Isobel Tynan

T&D Manager

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Creative Thinking: Protect your ideas


Scott Campbell’s original artwork features eight of the gruesome ways ideas can get themselves killed

Below, are 8 suggestions of how to protect ideas and move them towards implementation.
Within a Problem Solving/Brain storming session:

1.       A good facilitator is essential to create the atmosphere of trust which enables the group to shift their focus from convergent thinking (there's one "right answer" to this problem) to divergent thinking (Coming up with new connections between unrelated ideas) and to feel safe in putting forward new ideas.

2.       The facilitator also reinforces for participants that the first part of the session is all about letting go of immediate judgement of suggestions ("That would never work here" etc) and ensuring everyone’s contribution and initial ideas are protected (and not evaluated to death immediately!)

3.       When it comes to selecting ideas that the problem owner (a.k.a. person who has final say in which ideas to adapt) would like to progress with he/she should start with paraphrasing what idea means to him/her and listing all the positive features first.

4.       Then, he/she can note any concerns and the group can come up with ways to overcome those concerns. I favour the method used by Synectics where a  concern / problem / issue is expressed as a problem for solution (e.g. ‘How to ...’) and then the group’s solutions for these are expressed  in terms of ‘What you do is’.

Outside of the formal creative problem solving session:

5.       Identify who are the stakeholders are you need to get buy in from.  Prepare your pitch well-No matter how informal your conversation about the idea is going to be it’s always important to be clear on your key message including what implementation will cost in terms of time, money, effort.

6.       Listen out for the real concerns sometimes expressed in obtuse language (e.g. we should stick to what we’re currently doing; we tried something like that before and it didn’t work); acknowledge what’s being said and explain (using facts and figures) the rationale behind the idea.

7.        Engage your stakeholders: If possible, understand how they like to receive information (e.g. one page with bullet points, a face-to-face conversation with “big picture” details). While enthusiasm and passion for a great idea is likely to be very appealing being able to “translate” it into language your stakeholders will understand and appreciate will help it to progress.  And they are essential to “champion” the idea.

8.       Build a prototype or get a pilot case study going as soon as possible with build in and agreed measurable success factors. Ensure your champions are on board to help communicate and generate enthusiasm for the idea.

 What factors are particularly important to you in protecting your ideas?

What additional factors do you recommend to protect ideas?

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Isobel Tynan

T&D Manager

Read more from Isobel Tynan

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