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Prevent idea overload

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

When you ask your team for ideas, the worst thing that can happen is that no one says anything. However, too many ideas can be hard to process, assess and act on.

You don’t want to dull employees’ enthusiasm by shutting down ideation sessions—but you do need a process to capture ideas and take the next step. Use this strategy:

Limit the number of ideas. Ask employees to pare their ideas down to the one or two they feel most strongly about. You can always revisit additional ideas later, but this helps everyone focus. Initially, you want to be working with fewer than 10 ideas.

Compare ideas to your goals. Assess each idea to determine if it supports other short- and long-term goals. Eliminate the ones that don’t, and on the others, note how each supports those goals.

Write them down. During a meeting, write down all the ideas on a whiteboard. Don’t evaluate them yet. Just list them. Merge any ideas that are the same or very similar. Note: We suggest using your phone to snap pictures of the whiteboard as you make changes throughout this exercise. That way, you can preserve the ideas and document your process.

Consider the timing of an idea. For it to be successful, do you have to act immediately? If so, do you have the resources and capability to do so? If you don’t act, will you miss out on a huge opportunity? Are you already too late given your circumstances? Prioritize your remaining list based on timing.

Look at the costs. Talk honestly about what it will take to implement an idea, from a resources and budgetary perspective. While you may have to do more investigating to fully understand the expense of an idea, you will know pretty quickly if you lack the money, manpower or resources to move forward.

From there, reprioritize the list, and create a plan for moving forward with the top idea. Delegate action items and schedule follow-up meetings.

— Adapted from “Idea Overload: How to Manage Having Too Many Ideas,” Aly Juma, https://alyjuma.com.

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