Have you ever wondered why the room goes dead silent when a leader asks the team to share their big ideas? It’s brain science. The fear that kicks in makes it impossible to get those creative, innovative, creative ideas flowing.
To make our teams more innovative, we have to reduce fear and create an environment where it feels safe to share ideas.
So, next time you want to trigger creativity and innovation, hold a crazy, big idea meeting!
How do we create a situation where the prefrontal cortex opens up and starts exploding with new ideas? How do we prime our teams for this meeting and facilitate it well? In this episode, I share how to create a meeting where people are excited to share all their best ideas.
When we’re told to come up with new ideas, our primitive brain takes over because it’s afraid of failure and judgment. The more fear someone has in their brain, the harder it is to access the problem-solving part of their mind. -Jen Thornton
[0:00:03.0]: Welcome back, friends. This is your place for cutting edge tools, exercises, best practices, and modern leadership strategies. Because when the world is changing, it's time to bring our leadership styles along for the ride. Whether you're a company leader, a corporate visionary, an entrepreneur, this show gives you new insights into the neuroscience and the language of leadership. Plus practical steps and tips to lead your teams in a powerful way. It'll also help you keep your people happy and engaged, all while achieving your biggest goals. I'm your host, Jen Thornton. I'm a talent strategist, a brain-based executive coach, speaker, and the founder of 304 Coaching. Now, let's fix leadership.
[0:00:46.4]: Have you ever called a meeting to brainstorm with your team on how to improve sales, find a new idea, or come up with a new product? Did you enter this meeting thinking your team was gonna bring you that one idea that was gonna turn your industry on its head and you only got the same old ideas, or even worse, you got nothing, just nothing? Well, there's a reason for that. And it's all based on the neuroscience of the brain. When we're told to come up with new ideas, our primitive brain takes over because it's afraid of failure and judgment. And the more fear someone has in their mind, the less access they have to the parts of their brain that actually has the ability to problem solve and come up with innovative ideas.
[0:01:30.9]: And so we have to reduce fear to be innovative. And here's why. When we are high on fear and there's a lot of fear in our mind, here are the things that could be happening inside of your team member's head. Things they could be saying to themselves. "Ooh, I don't know about sharing this idea. Someone might think it's stupid." "I've shared new ideas in the past and was told I was wrong and I got in trouble for it and I learned that lesson so I won't be sharing again." Or, "Ugh, if I share this idea I could get Sam in trouble." "Ugh, if I tell the truth about this product I know my boss will get mad at me because it's their pet project." You can see how none of these thoughts inspire new, innovative ideas.
[0:02:16.5]: So now, how do we think about changing these thoughts? How do we create situation where the prefrontal cortex opens up and just explodes with new innovative ideas?
[0:02:28.0]: Well, here's what I have for you today. I'm gonna teach you on how to host a crazy idea meeting. So this is a very specific type of meeting. If you set it up correctly, it'll allow your team to move from fear to innovation. And to do this, you have to set up the meeting with very specific language and information. You also have to ensure you manage the meeting in a way that continues to bring innovation. One discouraging comment about a crazy idea shuts that person down and probably shuts down the entire team. Managing your language, managing your views of the crazy ideas will help your team become more innovative. And the more you reward them for innovation over time, the better they're going to get at it.
[0:03:14.2]: So how do you actually facilitate this crazy idea meeting? First, you wanna start with a setup, and you have to be really specific in this. You have to know what you want from this meeting, and everyone else has to also know where they're going. It's hard to think about innovative ideas if you don't know what outcomes someone's looking for. So here's an example that we'll use as we play with this topic today. 26 to 32-year-olds have decreased their spending with product Sparkle by 10% over the last 18 months. We want to regain the market share and increase it by two points. So now you have to communicate it. You know clearly what the outcome is. Now let's talk about how to communicate it. And this is important. How you set the stage for this meeting creates the initial response in the mind. And if you do it correctly, I promise you the ideas will come.
[0:04:09.2]: So here's an example of a email you can send to your team, and I'm just gonna read it off to you. And then we'll kind of talk about it. So here's the email example. "Next Tuesday I am hosting a bring me your crazy idea meeting. The goal of this meeting is to find innovative ways to regain the Sparkle market share and ultimately grow it by two additional points. To do this, we have to think in a way we've never thought before. I want to hear your craziest ideas, those ideas you're afraid to share because they're so out there. If you think an idea isn't worth discussing because it's impossible, bring me that idea. Those types of ideas are the ideas that will set us apart and allow us to regain the market. No idea is too small, too large, too simple, too out there, too anything. In fact, I'll be giving awards away for the most insane ideas."
[0:05:06.3]: Let's take a quick break from the conversation. Do you have new leaders on your team, and you can see their potential, you can see their runway, but you cannot figure out how to get them across the finish line? Reach out to 304 Coaching and learn more about our brain-based, competency-focused executive coaching.
[0:05:26.0]: So let's talk about that email. Couple things in there. You've already told them, "If you're afraid, it's okay." You've told them that no idea is anything, it's just an idea. And the most important part is you've told them, "I'm going to reward you for thinking in a way that feels unnatural. I'm going to reward you for coming up with something that's impossible and crazy." And that allows people to think in a whole new way.
[0:05:53.3]: So let's talk about the parts of facilitating a meeting like this. And this is important, because now that you have a clear mission and you've set the meeting up in a way that inspires innovation, don't blow it with poor facilitation. If this is the first time you've done this, people will be a little weary, wondering if you really do want to hear these crazy ideas, and you want to show them that you want to hear them and you want show them that you want to reward them.
[0:06:22.9]: So when we think about that facilitation, let's think about how we're gonna open the meeting. Let people know that you cannot wait to hear their crazy ideas and set the ground rules. No idea is shot down, no idea is judged. They're just ideas to start with. Figuring out the viability happens later, not right now. And remind them that there's gonna be prizes for the most ridiculous ideas. Then you have to start facilitating that conversation. Ask people to start sharing their crazy ideas. Write them where everyone can see them. Encourage the team to build on the ideas that they are coming up with. Encourage them to think big. Don't worry about if it's possible. Worry about what you want to do, worry about just those insane ideas. Do not think about the how to deliver it. Only think about the what.
[0:07:16.3]: Now you want to start rewarding people. After all the ideas have been exhausted, congratulate everyone for their innovation. Ask people to tell you which ideas they feel should win the craziest idea awards. And hey, the reward could be just as simple as some bragging rights. Now you wanna start finding the themes. I promise all of those crazy ideas, there's gonna be some good themes that come out of it. There'll be themes that you find throughout all these ideas. Pull those out. They are clues. These clues will tell you which direction to take the conversation. These common themes are where you will find the answers to what you need to do and gain back that market share.
[0:07:57.6]: All right, next steps. Got to always think about next steps. Always leave the team thinking about what should happen. The next steps will differ depending on what you discover, but partner with your team and determine next steps and partner with them on their commitments.
[0:08:15.6]: And you always wanna follow up. We've all left a meeting where we're like, "Ooh, I was kind of out there. I probably shouldn't have said that." And you don't want people leaving the meeting judging their own thoughts. You want them to leave and say, "Hey, the fact that we all thought so big was the win." And so make sure you follow up. So after the meeting, don't forget to send out communication to thank and praise your team. After someone goes back to their desk, they could be thinking things like, "I hope my ideas weren't too weird." "I hope my honesty won't be held against me." You want to send an email that says, "I am so grateful for all of your crazy ideas. Here are next steps. Here's what I loved about it." Congratulate those who won the awards, but make sure people know that you appreciate how big everyone thought. So that is how to host a crazy idea meeting.
[0:09:11.6]: And to fix leadership, we have to focus on decreasing fear. And the premise of this crazy idea meeting is to decrease fear so that we can think bigger.
[0:09:24.8]: So go out there, try a crazy idea meeting. I can't wait to hear how it goes for you, and I can't wait to hear about all the incredible ideas that come out of your crazy idea meeting.
[0:09:39.3]: Thanks for listening to Let's Fix Leadership. By hanging out with me today, you're already on your path. If you're looking to learn more and to see if your company is a good fit for our coaching and leadership education, then hey, visit 304coaching.com. If you got value out of this podcast, share it with a friend, and it would mean the world to me if you would leave a thoughtful review and a rating on iTunes. Thanks again for listening, and I appreciate your work in fixing leadership.
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