Have you tried scoring a ticket to a TED or TEDx event in your area? If so, you'll agree with me that it's virtually impossible to do; they sell out in minutes all across the country. And to think, these fantastic events are really just three hour storytelling sessions by people who have taken ideas and run with them.
This thirst for new ideas is not surprising. We're living in an age where any budding idea has more opportunity to grow, spread, and thrive. More and more of us are starting to believe that anything is possible if we put our minds to it. Obviously technology and social media are a huge reason for this. But as I mentioned in my previous article, we are also seeing a paradigm shift in the workplace; from traditional top-down management to a more team-oriented and collaborative approach that encourages and fosters ideas. These factors have created the ideal environment for ideas to thrive.
So, you know that there are all these great ideas out there. Now what?
The workplace used to be a traditional, left brain environment that prized Analytical and Structural thinking styles (or a combination of the two), and encouraged behaviors that tended towards gregariousness, the forceful driving of ideas, and a firm & focused mentality over the welcoming of change. But this paradigm shift is making it so that everyone now has a seat at the table, and there are important roles to be fulfilled by people who have preferences in other thinking and behavioral attributes.
You are now operating in the Age of Conceptualism. Here are 3 considerations for navigating the landscape and ensuring your big idea can turn into a reality:
- Put together a team. I can't think of any better analogy than butterflies here. Think of all those outlandish suggestions, out-of-the-box alternatives, and innovations that come from the Conceptual thinkers in your organization as butterflies. There are so many of them. They're beautiful. Then as soon as the idea has been mentioned, they just flutter away, in every direction, never to be seen again. Don't let this happen! Provide each new idea with the nourishment it needs--analysis to know whether it's worth acting upon, knowledge of how the idea will impact everyone, and some structure to carry it through to the end. You do this by creating teams within your organization which include representation from all thinking and behaving preferences.
- Identify people's strengths. What are they good at? What gives them energy? What do they enjoy? You can't create teams that tap into and maximize unique talents until you know what those talents are. We use a psychometric assessment, but you could also make a conscious effort to think about the skills a person possesses. Asking them doesn't hurt either.
- Encourage idea sharing in all forms. Make it known that all thoughts (whether they're new ideas or important details in the overall plan) will be considered and heard, and use different forums to flesh out concepts. Remember, your team members will have varying behavior preferences, so a more quiet and introspective team member will appreciate not having to perform under the pressure of an all-company brainstorming or problem-solving sessions. Similarly, someone who is on the competitive and driving end of Assertiveness will appreciate it when her specific ideas to receive your attention.
No matter how great an idea, at the end of the day it's still about execution, results, and turning a "what if?" into "here's why, here's how, and here's who is going to contribute". It may be the dawn of the Conceptual age, but everyone has an important role to play.