Many people and businesses who say they want innovation, end up killing off any hope of it really early on.
How do they do this? They have not learned to suspend judgement.
The single easiest way to prevent change and progress in any business is to start judging an idea very early on. It’s easy to shoot down early ideas. Things are often too expensive, out of scope, too weird, too hard, not our ‘thing.’
But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t something hidden deep down inside those thoughts that are good, useful, disruptively amazing even.
If you are frustrated by the lack of progress with innovation on new products, improving your processes or even just day-to-day problem-solving, the chances are very high your company has a culture of early judgement on new thoughts and ideas.
This is what makes most innovation brainstorms effectively a waste of time. Finance is going to say its too expensive, logistics is going to say its too hard, management will say we don’t have capacity and the CEO will think its too crazy for our market.
But here’s the thing: the first iteration of an idea is rarely the perfect fit for the problem you are trying to solve. Waiting for that one perfect idea to emerge that you can just latch onto and work with, is like fighting for peace. It is not going to happen.
BUT if you learn to suspend your judgment, stop shooting down ideas and instead learn to deep dive them, you will suddenly find you have a lot more exciting new things to investigate.
5 Ways to Suspend Judgement
- Start saying ‘Yes and…’ instead of ‘Yes but…’
But’s kill ideas dead. Next time you’re in a meeting, try saying ‘Yes but…’ to everything and see how fast the energy leaves the room. Stop it.
- Think slower
Our reactions to new things are often based on the fact that they look a little bit like something else. In short, we detect a pattern and we react. However, if you resist that reaction and engage your rational, logical self, you can often see past the obvious to more interesting aspects.
- Do more
You need to get used to not having black and white responses to everything. Sure, in business we love it. But it’s mostly not helpful in innovation. Spread your wings, engage your inner child, your hidden artist, whatever. But do it more often. The ideas will really start to flow
- Build on old ideas
No-one ever said that just because an idea didn’t work once means that it will never work. Timing is always important. Use older ideas as start points for new developments. You’ll be surprised what you missed last time around.
- Use the power of the room
When you give one person absolute power of decision over what happens next, you rob yourself and your organisation of good ideas. Let the pack circle your brainstorm like hungry lions: ravaging, biting, spitting it out and tearing it apart. Their group intelligence will reveal everything of use much faster than an outsider just saying, ‘No.’