If someone looked you in the eye and said, “You have 10 minutes to come up with the most creative, most breakthrough idea this industry has ever seen” you might be tempted to laugh in that person’s face.
After all, you’re lucky to remember to feed the dog after the long days you put in at work, let alone the hours you log at home. Come up with a breakthrough, brilliant idea? Who has the brainpower to do that these days?
Yet companies are depending on workers to come up with the innovative ideas needed to keep them competitive and thriving into the next decade. But anyone who has been forced into a brainstorming session and ordered to submit creative ideas knows the agony of forcing a process that seems more like a punishment rather than as a way to help a company’s bottom line.
“The problem is that the idea of innovation has sort of become the flavor of the month,” says Bryan W. Mattimore. “Even ideas about letting employees have 10 percent of their time to innovate or let them use ‘innovation rooms’ have failed.”
Instead, companies are now grasping the idea that they need to do more than “check off a box” that they have innovative practices, and really look at how they can get innovative ideas to the marketplace, much as Apple has done, he says.
Mattimore, president and co-founder of The Growth Engine Co. LLC, has helped companies like Sony, IBM and Pepsi come up with breakthrough ideas, and says the secret is using the right technique for the desired outcome. In his book, “Idea Stormers: How to Lead and Inspire Creative Breakthroughs” (Jossey Bass, $26.95), he provides examples of how leaders can get the results they need.
“You have to remember that people are so time crunched and it’s almost impossible for them to come up with innovative ideas because they don’t have the time. They’re just thinking you’re giving them another job,” Mattimore says. “The world just needs to learn how to do brainstorming more quickly and efficiently.”
He even has a suggestion when a boss can’t find the time for everyone to attend an idea sessions. He suggests putting a white board and markers in an open area and posting a challenge. Then, as participants walk by they can add an idea – a quick and easy way to generate ideas for a busy workplace.
“It’s an interactive suggestion box that they use without spending a lot of time on it,” he says.
What strategies do you use to generate innovative ideas in your workplace?