“Hey, I have an idea!”
Ideas are the seeds of creative thinking. People are always coming up with them, and then asking for your opinion. When’s the last time someone ran an idea by you? Yesterday? This morning? Ten minutes ago?
How we respond to new ideas can have a big impact, not only on the idea, but also on our relationship with the person who has the idea.
Most of us were trained to see what’s wrong. So first, we try to be helpful by finding errors and mistakes. We believe our greatest contribution to an idea is to find out where it went amiss and try to correct it. Unfortunately, that’s simply not true. In fact, over focusing in on the negative can cause us to overlook a hidden gem.
Remember the cautionary tale of the recording studio executive who turned away a new band called The Beatles, saying: “Guitar groups are on their way out.”
Creative thinking experts have developed a new idea protocol that can help you stay open to a new idea long enough to let it take hold. They call it POINT, an acronym that stands for Pluses, Opportunities, Issues and New Thinking. The essence of the approach is to offer praise first. Before you dig into the problems, focus on the upside.
When you first respond, give feedback about what’s good about the idea. What you like about it? What sounds like a spark of brilliance?
Then go a step further. What good things might be possible if the idea actually came to fruition? Your ability to identify future benefits shows that you see the idea’s value.
Only then voice your concerns. But rather than a critical voice of reason, phrase your concern as a question. To be more exact, use an open-ended inquiry to ask how the issue you have might be overcome. For instance if you’re concerned about funding, ask “How might we get funding for that?” Or if the CEO will never buy in, ask “How could we could get the CEO on board?”
Framing your concerns as questions isn’t just a way to be polite. It’s actually a cognitive strategy that invites new thinking to help overcome the issues.
Try using POINT as your new idea protocol. And don’t worry about giving false hope to bad ideas. Bad ideas quickly fall away when the issues can’t be overcome, and good ideas gain strength and build followers.
Learn more about FourSight’s tool cards for creative thinking. See below.