Take these critical steps:
- Acknowledge all ideas, even if you can’t use them. Failing to acknowledge ideas is the fastest way to discourage people.
- Provide guidance on how to develop promising ideas. Example: “If you could flesh out the marketing plan a little more, I’ll be happy to consider your idea some more.”
- Provide a forum for the idea. Let its creator present it to the executive team or a group of clients. That honors the idea and its creator, yet invites other people to critique it.
- Suggest a next step if you’re not able to use the idea. Example: “I don’t think we’re going to move ahead with your plan because of X,Y and Z. But you showed such a keen knowledge of our customers, I wonder whether you’d be willing to take on this related project.”