Friday, June 25, 2010

I've Got a Great Idea!

Tuesday is "Boys Day." It's the day that I spend with my kids every week that is full of exploration, craziness and father/son bonding. It's been that way since they were born almost 8 years ago and is the best day of my week.

Lately I've noticed that I don't have to do all of the planning for the events of the day. Routinely one of the guys will now suggest options of places to go, things we should do, where we should eat, all with a total disregard of time, space or geography.

A recent case in point, "Daddy, I've got a great idea. Let's go back to Battleship Cove..." (Fall River, MA which is 1.5 hours from home), "...have lunch with Nana and Grampy..." (Scituate, MA which is an hour from Battleship Cove) "...and then we can meet Mommy for dinner at Rainforest Cafe." (West Hartford, CT which is 2.5 hours back from Scituate).

As I was explaining the logistics of their plan to them, including the amount of time in the car, they were able to recalculate, for themselves, that the plan wasn't something they were really committed to. It was quickly amended to a visit to the Aquarium and "Let's pick up dinner at Mommy's favorite pasta place." We implemented that one. [Total drive time: 1.5 hours.]

It struck me that many of us in management quickly discourage the generation of new ideas from our team members and in the process lose a great opportunity for team learning and growth. Why? Because it's easier than taking the time to explain the ramifications of their suggestions and working through to a better more workable solution as a group.

Are you leading a team that is willing to offer suggestions, explore options, try things that are a little 'out there' as a way to improve? Or are you responsible for killing the suggestion machine by allowing comments like, "We already tried that", "We've always done it the other way", "That'll never work" to infiltrate your workplace?

Think about all of the things that have become part of everyday life because someone said, "Hey, I've got an idea." Here's a few examples: flight, electricity, indoor plumbing, frozen foods, the microwave, eBay and Google.

The next time someone says "Hey, I've got an idea!" to you, I encourage you to take the time to listen, give feedback, help them think through the suggestion, add ideas to the recipe and see what you can come up with that might launch a new or revised product, save money or even invent a new industry.

Do it because it's fun, productive and because you're helping your teammates grow, develop, and help you become a better team leader. After all, somebody let you grow and develop the knowledge and skills that enabled you to rise to your current position, didn't they?

By : Bob_Holdsworth

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