I’ve had to make a tough decision recently in my workshops. If I accept that my job is to inspire and enable people to generate ideas and take action, to do that I might have to challenge them. I might have to point out their failings and that might not make me as well liked as if I just glossed over that and did an entertaining talk after which everyone can go back to being unproductive and uncreative as they previously were. I decided it would be better to be slightly more forceful and get the results.
I’ve spoken to hundreds of businesses this year about the topic of being more creative in generating ideas to improve profits. There are a lot of good people and great businesses out there but I want to tell you about the sizeable proportion that are sloppy, self-loathing, lack confidence, closed to new ideas and resigned to failure.
We all agree those attitudes are not helpful to a successful business. The first step in changing those attitudes is to recognise that you may occasionally slip into them.
I’m getting better at spotting these people in my workshops. When we get onto the ‘breakout sessions’ where the delegates work in small teams it quickly becomes obvious who is going to benefit and who isn’t. One of the tasks is to generate ideas for each others main problem. These are the worst things people do when they’re having other give them suggestions, they:
– are reluctant to write the ideas down.
– filter the ideas.
– criticise, saying “we’ve tried that”, “that won’t work”, or “you don’t understand, in our industry..”
– translate the idea into their own words, changing it.
– keep talking over people, giving ‘classic examples’ instead of allowing more people to offer more ideas.
– don’t understand their own problems properly or are unable to explain or clarify.
– behave resigned that their problem is unsolvable (“mine’s such a bigger and better problem than yours”).
This is the behaviour of an idiot. What it does is to shut down right brain thinking (by using the dominant critical left brain to judge) stopping further idea development or ‘brain-waves’ to come from a suggestion. It stops people wanting to offer their suggestions (which may be pure gold) because the don’t want rejection or criticism for their unformed new thought (understandably). You can feel the annoyance in the group. Why can’t people have the good grace to listen and accept the gifts people give. Interestingly enough, these same people fail to contribute any ideas for anyone else’s problems.
I hope I haven’t described you. But if you recognise any of this behaviour – force yourself to change it now. Those attitudes are the tip of the iceberg of the doom that will surely come if those negative manners eat into your business and relationships with staff and customers. Change your mind into an open, willing, positive, playful, experimental, good-finding, inventive workshop of ideas.