A recent Dilbert comic strip where the boss has a meeting to request on employee ideas definitely falls into the “more pathetic and true than funny” Dilbert category. But then again, when Dilbert isn’t going for pure laughs, there is usually a bigger point to be made about what is messed up in business.
In this case, the boss opens up the meeting with the employees looking for “billion dollar productideas.”
By the time Dilbert and Wally point out that if they had billion dollar ideas they’d do them on their own, the boss winds up with the ideas his question deserves: “a phone with a wooden screen” and a “drone that attacks anyone who looks at it.”
Screwing Up How to Request Employee Ideas
If you REALLY want input from your employees to help your business, you obviously don’t ask for “billion dollar ideas.” But then again, you also shouldn’t describe the employee ideas you’re looking for as:
- Big (or The Next Big)
- High Impact
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
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 [email protected] or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand’s innovation strategy and implementation success.