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Ideas Often Need Help from Other Ideas

By Moises Norena


If you’ve ever been in an ideation session and the facilitator gives you the sermon of “no early critique” don’t make a fool or yourself, embrace this primal innovation principle. Not only people shut down when we critique their ideas but what could become something great can die on a vine. Keeping a positive mind and building on each other's ideas is a basic principle we must embrace and inforce as innovators. Fueling ideas, providing different perspectives and twisting them upside down can take ideas from good to great.  


Here are some tips that you can use if you are facilitating or can put yourself in a position to help a group move forward:


- When somebody says YES BUT: listen to what’s behind the BUT and turn that into a positive, ask somebody how could the BUT we solved if there were no constraints, take it from there

- When an idea is offered and everybody is quiet: inquire about the insight behind the idea. Ask what if we do this? what if we do that?

- When a nugget of a great idea is offered but others don’t listen because they want their ideas heard: listen, let people talk but have them do it quickly, go back and build on what seemed like a great idea, it is your job to make the best out of that time

- When you see a good idea struggle to get buy-in, rely on the diversity of the room to make it better. Ask the least obvious person in the room: “how would you implement that idea?”


Yes, there are bad ideas, but if the foundation of your ideation is solid discovery work then ideas will likely have merit. It is always important to have people with good business sense facilitating sessions so they can extract the juice from the good stuff and tastefully put the bad in the trash. Never forget to give merit to the authors; pride of ownership goes a long way on innovation.