Q&A: Question from the audience ‘We have too many ideas – what should we do with them?’

I’ve been asked this question many times when I’ve given talks. It seems to be common for organisations to feel as though they have to turn down lots of ideas because they don’t have the resources to deal with them.

My first tip is to give people space to express their ideas. Maybe you can have one team meeting per month in which you discuss new ideas. If there is no formal forum in which to express ideas some people will hold them back. If your problem is too many ideas, have one person take notes at meetings and keep an idea-diary for your team. Then, you can review the diary on a regular basis and see which ideas are progressing. Structure and administration are needed to make this work, but it is efficient.

Provide training for people in your business about how idea development works. They may no longer feel the need to discuss ideas with everyone and will know how to bring an idea forward themselves. Ideas need time to mature and strengthen.

When someone comes to you and would like to discuss an idea always smile and listen. This will make you more attractive to work with. In general, people don’t go and discuss new ideas with someone who is stressed and not a good listener.

I once had a boss who told everyone to put their idea in a PowerPoint document and send it over to him. This was a great way to kill enthusiasm and inspiration. If your business does this too often, stop doing it! Always discuss an idea first, give it life and add a bit of creative honey to it. Then, the bees will come and you can build on it. [Click to tweet]

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Idea development needs to be structured so that people know how it works. If they don’t they may not share their nascent ideas with anyone. We need great ideas today. The world has a lot of problems waiting to be solved, and for you to stay in business you need new ideas now more than ever.