All of that said, over the years I’ve seen two common (unfortunate) themes emerge when the topic of “wild ideas” comes up:
1. Leaders become hesitant to encourage the free expression of ideas, as they may worry that untested, invalidated, or siloed ideas could come flying out of their team like hundreds of bats flying out of a cave; and this worry inevitably leads to a fear of risk to the business. In the end, leaders prefer to continue to play it safe by advocating for small, harmless adjustments.
2. Teams are hesitant to share their wildest thoughts and ideas for fear of judgment or criticism. They’ve usually played it safe for so long that the “status quo” feels as comfy as a weighted blanket at nighttime, and giving that up to explore anything new feels unnecessary or like too much of a gamble.
If you are a leader who wants to go off-script and enable more creativity in your team without the bats, here’s what I recommend:
Create a safe space for your team to express themselves and share their ideas by offering them a system that will help them think through the problem they’re trying to solve, and the idea they have in mind. Using a system to help them navigate through their thought process makes creativity feel safer; it feels more like jumping into water with a life jacket.
This year, consider implementing a process for encouraging wild ideas within your team. It could be as simple as setting aside dedicated time for brainstorming sessions or providing resources for employees to help them think through their ideas.
Now be bold, and go off-script.