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How Tiny Ideas Become Big Innovations

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A great idea typically isn’t born that way.

It’s birthed from a tiny seed of an idea, and it’s often powered by your team’s collaboration.

You can encourage your team to work together and become more creative by putting building blocks into place that ensure there’s a space for great ideas.

The process

Here’s what typically happens when someone tosses out an idea: You look at the thinnest top layer of the idea, evaluate its merit and then scrap it  –  without giving it adequate consideration.

It’s very easy to get caught up with the day-to-day tasks of your job or the responsibilities of your role, thinking it’s too difficult to be innovative or have the time to toss around ideas.

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But if you’re committed to the collaborative process and you want to make sure your team is as innovative as possible, you have to find a way to allow ideas to come to life.

Why?

When an idea is in its infancy, it may seem impossible, unrealistic, and not the best solution. But give that idea space to breathe and grow, and it might evolve into the precise solution your business needs that will shift the company to align with market growth.

Tweet: Give an idea space to grow, and it could evolve into the solution your business needs to take off.

The solution

If your team has improvisational skills  –  or the ability to see an idea through and examine every possible angle  –  you’ll be surprised at how much innovation will result from the collaborative effort.

Think of the process as building blocks.

One person lays out a block, then another team member adds her block, then another, and so on.

You let the team run with the idea and take it as far as possible. Everyone should have the expectation that, by the end, the idea may or may not come to fruition. But that’s not necessarily the point.

The end goal is to let ideas flourish so that the best ones rise to the top.

The exercise

You and your team can learn how to innovate by practicing this exercise.

Building Blocks Brainstorm

Throw away everything you know about conventional brainstorming, a process that aims to gather as many ideas as possible. This exercise should focus on just one idea, and push it as far as it can go.

  1. Some of the same rules of brainstorming apply here, too  –  no edits and everybody gets to play. The difference is that everyone will focus on the initial idea.
  2. Clearly state the idea that you’re going to build. For example, “We want to make our boring product, the toilet brush, more interesting.”
  3. Allow everyone to contribute by going around the group. Keep it flexible enough that someone can pass if they are stuck, or someone with an immediate contribution can speak up.
  4. Start with a single contribution. For example, “Let’s give our toilet brush a name and personality.”
  5. Let the ideas roll. “Let’s get our toilet brush, Trixie, a Facebook page. And let’s post funny pictures of her on vacation or doing her job  –  cleaning a toilet.”
  6. If you’re the facilitator, keep the energy high by encouraging each contribution and pulling in everyone. Let your wild ideas go far, and keep adding. Remember, one person’s impossibility is another person’s innovation.

Give your team the collaboration tools it needs to drive their creativity and come up with innovative ideas. Try this exercise with your team every week or monthly  –  and see what great ideas you come up with next.

How have you grown innovation within your team or personally?

Takeaway: Practice building block brainstorming regularly to get your teams moving in the right direction!

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