8/10 people DON’T offer ideas. Sure, you can change that figure (any many have) by offering an incentive like a gift or a reward, but generally speaking, the vast majority of people don’t offer their ideas freely. Why?
Unfortunately some will simply see that they are ‘not paid to come up with ideas’. There’s little you can do about these people. I hope not many of them work for or with you.
The next group resist because of previous experiences where they offered ideas but felt they were ignored. You can (and must) change this perception, but it takes time.
The principle reason is that the person with the idea simply has a lack of confidence (or time) to figure out how to articulate it.
We are conditioned not to make ourselves vunerable, and sharing an idea is perhaps the ultimate way to make ourselves vunerable at work; “what if they don’t get it, what if it’s a stupid idea, what if they already knew about it and I’m just slow”?
The most important thing you can do to get ideas from from the ‘other 8’ therefore is to help them articulate their idea – to get from a fuzzy kernel of an idea into something that’s in focus and understandable to other people.
It’s about a discussion. It’s about being open to listening to an idea, asking the right questions, playing it back to them;
– “is this what you mean”
– “what problem does it solve, and who has that problem”
– “and how is your idea an improvement on what happens now”
– “what would you expect the obvious questions to be”
– “who do you think needs to get behind this idea and what do you think that person would like or be concerned about with this idea”
What’s crucial however is that you accept that if you start this process with someone, don’t in any way be judgmental if they can’t answer those questions and you don’t get an idea at the end. Not all ideas can be brought into focus and many more get discounted as soon as they are brought into focus.
Now you may be thinking, “my door is always open, anyone can come and share their idea with me”. Honestly, if you accept that most people don’t give you an idea regardless of your door being open, it’s not the answer.
You need to de-risk it for them, reward or recognise them and most of all, do something with the idea – even if the something is nothing, just tell them why and invite them to offer their next idea.