If you REALLY want input from your employees to help your business, you obviously don't ask for "billion dollar ideas" at the start of a brainstorming meeting or event. If employees were sitting on ideas like that, they'd likely go off and pursue them on their own. 

That's not the only way to not solicit ideas, though. You also shouldn't describe the employee ideas you're looking for as:

  • Big (or The Next Big)
  • Great
  • Implementable
  • Smart
  • High Impact
  • Strategic
  • New
  • Disruptive
  • Game-changing
  • Unique

Feel free to add to this list any other descriptor that causes your employees to "judge" their ideas before sharing them.

When you describe the types of ideas you want in a way that implies they need to be judged before they are shared, you've mingled divergent and convergent thinking into one. The result is you'll miss ideas with tremendous potential because you forced employees to self-evaluate them properly and potentially hoard them because they’re too good.

Far better to simply ask for ideas.

Or even better, ask employees to share:

  • Challenges your customers are facing with what you offer
  • Challenges your employees are facing in delivering what you offer
  • Work arounds being used to make your organization's processes more effective
  • Things your customers have been complaining about or asking for that have gone unaddressed

None of these involve any judgment, but any of them could have a major impact on your success if you address them successfully.

Be careful what you ask for when it comes to soliciting employees ideas. If you don't request employee ideas in a way that opens to the door for participation, you'll wind up with exactly the opposite of what you wanted in the first place. – Mike Brown


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The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand’s innovation strategy and implementation success.

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