In an era where innovation is seen as a business essential, organisations are trying just about anything to inspire their people to think creatively.
They ask their people to think differently, they tell them that innovation is an organisational priority, they say “think outside the box””, but everything they do reinforces the concept that ideas come from the top, that the bosses are the smartest people in the organisation, and that its better to keep your head down.
The ideas just don’t come.
So, in desperation the organisation introduces a suggestion box.
Because their organisation operates with a command and control hierarchy that doesn’t allow ideas to safely be shared with those in power, they create a process that provides anonymity to those brave enough to put a challenging idea ‘out there’.
What a waste! Rather than changing the culture of their organization so that ideas can flow freely and safely, they put them in a box (real or online) so that they can’t been seen, can’t grow and can’t develop.
Unfortunately the box also means that people don’t get to share their ideas with each other, their teams don’t experience the fun of brainstorming together, and the organization doesn’t get to reinforce the message that transformational ideas can come from anywhere and be welcomed.
So if you want to create a culture of innovation, then think about the free flow of ideas everyday, take away the anonymity of idea generation, remove any punitive processes for those who have ideas (even bad ones), and celebrate everyone’s ideas face to face.
Let’s not put ideas back in the box when we are trying to get people thinking outside it!