Table of contents:

How to Generate, Express and Advocate New Ideas: 30 Tips
How to Generate, Express and Advocate New Ideas: 30 Tips

An excerpt from the book "The Originals" with recommendations for those who want to develop lateral thinking.

How to Generate, Express and Advocate New Ideas: 30 Tips
How to Generate, Express and Advocate New Ideas: 30 Tips

Tips for individuals

Generation and identification of original ideas

1. Question the default state of affairs

Before accepting the status quo as a certain indisputable reality, ask: why did this situation arise at all? When you remind yourself that rules and systems are made by people, it becomes clear that these are not sacred tablets - and then you start thinking about how you can improve them.

2. Triple the number of ideas you normally generate

Even the best baseball players have an average of one hit out of three; so every innovator has pauses and misfires. The best way to increase your level of originality is to generate as many ideas as possible.

3. Turn to a new area for yourself

Originality increases as you expand your competence. One approach to such a task is to master some new skill, like those Nobel laureates who expanded their creative repertoire, painting, playing the piano, dancing or versification.

Another strategy is to rotate positions at work: for example, try yourself in a different position that will require a new set of knowledge and skills. The third option is to immerse yourself in the study of a foreign culture, like those fashion designers who became more innovative after living and working for some time in other countries that bears little resemblance to their own. You don't really need to travel abroad to diversify your experience: you can immerse yourself in a new cultural environment just by reading about it.

4. Practice strategic procrastination

When thinking about new ideas, take a deliberate pause in the middle of the process. When you pause in the midst of brainstorming or coming up with something new, you are more likely to do something outsider, while your idea will slowly mature.

5. Try to get more feedback from colleagues

It is difficult to judge the quality of your own ideas, because you have an excess of enthusiasm, and you cannot trust your instinct if you are not an expert in this field. You can't really rely on managers either - they are usually overly critical when evaluating other people's ideas. To get a more adequate reaction from the outside, share your findings with colleagues: they have enough sharp eyes to see the potential value of your ideas.

How to communicate and defend original ideas

6. Balance Your Risk Portfolio

If you are going to take risks in one area, balance that risk by exercising extreme discretion in another area of your life. This was done by entrepreneurs who tested their ideas, but did not quit their previous permanent job; this was the case with Carmen Medina, who took an information security position when she tried to push the CIA to use the internet. This trick will help you avoid unnecessary gambling losses.

7. Point out reasons why you shouldn't support your ideas

Remember Rufus Griscom, the businessman in Chapter 3, who told investors why they shouldn't invest in his company? You can also use this technique. First, list the three weakest points of your idea, and then ask participants for a few other reasons why you shouldn't support it. If an idea is really good, then people who find it difficult to formulate their criticisms about it will become even more aware of its merits.

eight. Try to introduce your ideas to as many people as possible

Repeat the same thing more often: it makes people more comfortable with unusual ideas. Usually they begin to react to an idea more favorably after they hear about it 10 to 20 times, especially if they mention it very briefly and at intervals of several days, and in conversation about various other things.

You can also make your original idea more attractive by tying it to others that have long been familiar and understandable to the public: for example, the original script for The Lion King was reworked into Hamlet with the Lions.

9. Reach out to an unfamiliar audience

Instead of looking for friendly interlocutors who share your values, try to reach out to less pleasant people who, however, practice the same methods as you. Young United States Navy pilot Ben Colemann created a highly efficient Rapid Innovation team by assembling a team of junior employees who were disciplined due to bickering with their superiors. All of them were united by a principled intransigence, and although their goals were different, the habit of being in opposition served as an excellent bonding solution.

Your best allies are people who do not like to be led by the majority, but prefer to solve problems in much the same way as you do.

10. Be a moderate radical

If your idea is radical, dress it up in more traditional clothing. This way, you can appeal to the values and opinions that they already share without encouraging others to fundamentally change their ideas.

You can use a Trojan horse, as Meredith Perry did when she disguised her idea of a wireless power system with the task of designing a converter. In addition, your idea can be thought of as a means to an end that is important to other people - like Frances Willard, who presented universal suffrage as a good way for conservative women to protect their families from domestic binge drinking. And if you already have a reputation for being too radical, you can go from being a leader to being a lightning rod by handing over the reins to other, more moderate people.

How to manage emotions

11. Find different incentives for yourself based on the degree of your determination / insecurity

If you are determined to act, focus on the remainder of the path: you will feel a surge of strength for the last dash. If your resolve hesitates, think about the path you have already traveled. Since you've already achieved so much, is it worth stopping now?

12. Don't try to calm down

If you are nervous, it is difficult to relax. It's easier to turn anxiety into strong positive emotions - interest and enthusiasm. Think about the reasons why you can't wait to change the order of things, and the positive results that can be the result of your efforts.

13. Think about the victim, not the culprit

When confronting injustice and focusing on the person who is causing it, you experience a surge of anger and aggression. By shifting your focus to the victim, you begin to feel empathy for them and are more likely to channel your anger into more constructive channels. Instead of trying to punish the perpetrator, you try to help the victim.

14. Realize that you are not alone

Even one ally is enough to seriously increase your resolve. Find someone who believes in your idea and start discussing the problem together.

15. Remember that if you do not take the initiative, the status quo is not going anywhere

Consider four options for responding to dissatisfaction with the status quo: withdrawal, protest, loyalty (loyalty), and ignorance. Only leaving and protesting will improve your personal circumstances. Protesting (“raising your voice”) may be the best choice if you have some control over the situation; otherwise, it may be time to see if you can increase your influence; if not, it's better to leave.

Tips for leaders

How to bring original ideas to life

1. Organize an innovation competition

You should not encourage innovative proposals on any topic at any time: busy people will not be able to be distracted by this. An innovation competition is an extremely effective way to collect a large number of innovative ideas and identify the best among them.

Instead of putting up a suggestion box, send out a well-articulated call to come up with ideas for solving a specific problem or exploring an area that is still untouched. Give employees three weeks to prepare proposals, and then instruct them to evaluate the ideas of colleagues themselves, so that the most original initiatives go into the next round of the competition. Winners will receive the budget, the team, and the support they need to turn their ideas into reality.

2. Imagine yourself in the place of the enemy

People often don't want to generate new ideas because they don't feel an urgent need. A sense of urgency can be created with the game How to Ditch a Company, invented by Lisa Bodell, CEO of futurethink. Gather a group of employees and invite them to brainstorm for an hour on the topic: how can we squeeze our organization out of business - or destroy our most popular product, service or technology. Then discuss the most serious of these threats and how to neutralize them and turn them into opportunities to move from defensive to offensive.

3. Invite employees from different departments, occupying different job levels, to put forward their ideas

At DreamWorks Animation, even accountants and lawyers are encouraged and trained to come up with ideas for new cartoons. This involvement in the creative part of the common cause adds variety to their work, making it more interesting for the employees themselves and at the same time expanding the flow of fresh ideas into the organization. And getting employees to participate in presentations has another advantage: when people come up with ideas, people become more creative and less prone to false negative assessments, and therefore can better judge the ideas of colleagues.

4. Make a “reverse day”

Since it can be difficult to find time for people to consider different original views, one of my favorite techniques is to have a “reverse day” in class and at conferences. Leaders or students are divided into groups, and each chooses some kind of judgment, opinion, or a whole field of knowledge, which are usually taken for granted and not challenged. The group asks itself the question: "When is everything the other way around?" - and then prepares a presentation of his ideas.

5. Forbid the words "like", "love" and "hate"

Nancy Lublin, CEO of the nonprofit, has banned employees from using the words “like,” “love,” and “hate,” because they make it too easy to give an intuitive assessment without doing the proper analysis. Employees are not allowed to say that they like one web page more than another: they must explain their opinion by supporting it with arguments, for example: "This page is stronger because the headline is clearer and more conspicuous than other elements." … This approach motivates people to come up with new ideas, not just reject existing ones.

Creating cultures that stimulate originality

6. Hire new employees, thinking not about how they will fit into the existing corporate culture, but about how they can contribute to this culture

When leaders value cultural alignment the most, they end up hiring only people who think the same way. However, originality is not generated by them, but by those who are able to enrich this culture. Before the interview, try to identify what kind of experience, skills, and personality traits your culture currently lacks. And then make these criteria governing the recruiting of new hires.

7. Avoid interviews to find out the reasons for leaving in favor of detailed interviews with new employees

Don't wait for an employee to quit to ask what ideas they have: ask them to share those ideas as soon as they go to work. Sitting next to a newcomer while they are just being introduced to the course, you will let him know that he is appreciated here, and at the same time you will hear something new and fresh from him.

Ask what brought him to you and what can keep him in your organization, invite him to see himself as a detective who studies corporate culture. Until recently he was an outsider, and now he has become an insider; using this double advantage, he can investigate and conclude which corporate practices should be archived and which should be preserved, and if there are potential incompatibilities between the values they are professed and practiced.

8. Demand formulation of problems, not ready-made solutions

If people are in a hurry to find answers, then in the end there will be only lawyers around you - and not a single investigator; in this case, you will not be able to get a true picture of what is happening. Following the example of Bridgewater, which created a special log book, you can also create a shared document where different teams of employees will submit reports about problems they see. Gather staff once a month to discuss these issues and find out which ones need to be addressed first.

9. Don't appoint "devil's advocates" - look for them

The opinions of dissidents are useful even when those opinions are wrong, but they are truly useful only when they are expressed sincerely and consistently. Instead of assigning someone to play the role of "devil's advocate," find someone who really has a dissenting opinion and invite him to openly state his views.

To identify such people, appoint an Information Administrator - assigning a member of staff the responsibility of talking informally with different team members before meetings to find out what they think.

10. Encourage criticism

It is difficult to encourage diversity of opinion if you yourself do not practice what you preach. Ray Dalio, having received an email from an employee criticizing his work at an important meeting, forwarded it to the entire staff of the company, giving a clear signal that he welcomed negative criticism.

By inviting employees to criticize you publicly, you provide an important example that encourages people to speak up openly even when their ideas are not popular.

Tips for Parents and Teachers

1. Ask your child what his role model would do in such a situation

Children are not afraid to take the initiative when they look at the problem through the eyes of the originals. Ask the children what they would like to change for the better in their family or at school. Then ask them to choose a real person or fictional character that delights them with their extraordinary creativity and ingenuity. What would he do in such a situation?

2. Show the connection between behavior and good personal qualities

Many parents and teachers praise good deeds as such, but children become more generous when they praise not deeds, but themselves - for their kindness and desire to help: then good behavior becomes part of their personal character.

When you see that the child has done something commendable, try to tell him: "You are a kind person, because you did this and that."In addition, children begin to behave more ethically when asked to be good: they want to earn that title. For example, when persuading a child to share a toy, do not tell him: "Sharing is good!", But say: "You are so good!"

3. Explain to your child how a bad act affects the lives of others

When children misbehave, help them understand that their actions are hurting other people. "How do you think she felt when you did this?" By realizing the negative impact of their actions on others, children begin to understand what empathy and guilt are, and this strengthens their motivation to correct the wrong - and avoid such actions in the future.

4. Focus on values, not rules

The rules set boundaries, and as a result, the child sees the world as something fixed, frozen. Values help a child to set rules for themselves. When you talk to your child about moral standards - just as the parents of the future righteous people of the world talked to their children - explain to him why certain of these principles are especially valuable to you, and ask your child why, in their opinion, they are so. are important.

5. Create new niches for kids

Let us recall how the last children in the family chose more original niches for themselves, when they realized that the more familiar ones were already occupied by their older brothers. There are ways to help your child find these new niches.

One of my favorite techniques is the jigsaw puzzle technique: in a group of students working on a common problem, each student becomes a unique expert on one aspect of the problem. For example, analyzing the biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, one of them focused on her childhood, another on adolescence, and the third on her role in the women's movement.

Studies show that this method weakens prejudices: children learn to value each other for certain skills. In addition, it allows them to put forward their own ideas, rather than becoming victims of groupthink. Encourage the children to change their context to reawaken their thoughts. For example, how would Eleanor Roosevelt's childhood be different if she grew up in China? What would she want to fight there?

"Originals. How nonconformists move the world forward ", Adam Grant
"Originals. How nonconformists move the world forward ", Adam Grant

In his new book, Adam Grant, a professor at the Wharton School of Business and an expert in management psychology, talks about how people with original minds implement unusual ideas and change the world. He cites the example of a CIA analyst, an Apple employee, an extreme swimmer, and other extraordinary personalities from whose experience you can learn. Translated from English by Tatiana Azarkovich.

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