I was working on a project recently and helping out with a roadshow at one of their sites. They were actively looking for ideas from employees. One chap came up to me and promptly told me his idea. Of course I said, “great idea, put it in the system” to which he replied, “nah, you put it in there for me”.
Of the thousands of people that work for this company 90+% of them will never admit to having an idea. Here’s one that had one, waiting for an opportunity to share with someone, but he chose not to share it (with anyone other than me). Why would that be?
It prompted quite some debate internally but I resolved to never understanding why he wouldn’t give it up, and in doing so get some credit for it.
Then, out of the blue, just as the idea collection campaign was closing, I noticed that same idea. So whatever the barriers were, he lowered them himself and put it in.
I had to track him down and ask him why it took him 3 weeks!
Eventually I caught up with him. The reason: his manager pestered and pestered so he put the idea in just to (his words) “get her off my back”.
Then another idea popped in from him. Then another, and this one WAS a brilliant idea. In-fact that one was perhaps one of the best ideas. It was to make every button in the home essentially a panic button.
The vital question is; would we have got that killer idea if we hadn’t have had the 2 or 3 average ideas?
I don’t believe so. I honestly don’t think that he held back giving me the average idea because he knew it was average.
The lesson, if there is one, is to work as hard as you need to in order to flip people from being someone that won’t share their ideas to someone that will. THEN (and only then) might we get the killer idea.