How open-minded are you to new ideas? Charles Kettering, the American engineer who invented the electric starter, once said, “People are very open-minded about new things—as long as they are exactly like the old ones.”
Do you close the door on new ideas in favor of recycling the familiar? I encourage you to put yourself under the microscope to identify the ways in which you directly or inadvertently squash innovation.
One of the most common ways is to criticize the suggestion, and few things stifle creativity more than critical words. This is especially true in a team meeting where groups clam-up to avoid verbal slaps on the wrist. Watch any good meeting facilitator and you will notice how that person takes suggestions that miss the mark and uses each as a springboard for better ideas.
Another mistake leaders and team members sometimes make is to ignore a new idea. Just let it die on the table. This sends a clear message that input is not welcome. A more effective approach is to acknowledge the suggestion, and if needed park it until you have time to give it adequate attention.
Finally, when new ideas are greeted with the “we tried this before and it didn’t work,” you close down the opportunity to revisit something with a fresh set of eyes. Too many times leaders and teams throw unneeded obstacles in the way of something that, if considered from a new angle, will greatly improve productivity and efficiency.
It’s very difficult to reach the next level with your team or maintain success without opening your mind to new ideas. Please make sure you are not directly or indirectly killing the sparks of innovation before they have an opportunity to catch fire.