Leadership in ideation

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Ideas, innovation and change are essential to success in today’s business environment. That’s why it’s mission-critical for leadership to embrace ideation, co-creation, and collaboration as a means of generating imaginative solutions that fuel transformative value – for clients, employees, partners, and communities alike.

Here are three ways leaders can supercharge their ideation sessions.

1. Stay active and engaged in-session

In many ideation sessions, leaders sometimes employ a passive approach. They’re present at the beginning of the ideation session to break the ice, deliver introductions, clarify objectives, tee things up, step back for the group to discuss, and then wrap up the conversation with final thoughts, sage advice, and next steps.

Successful facilitation, however, requires the leader to be actively engaged every step of the way. If participants break into groups, the leader should provide inputs within the small pockets of conversation. This is the only way to ensure all participants are moving in the right direction with their ideation. If there are timid individuals in the conversation, the leader should recognize this and pave the way for everyone’s perspectives and ideas to be heard and considered.

2. Check your badge and your ego at the door

In some ideation sessions, the facilitator overpowers the session. While the facilitator brings a wealth of experience and expertise, yet sometimes the facilitator’s ego can get in the way of meaningful, insightful and collaborative conversations.

For the benefit of the group, more facilitators should check their egos at the door. The ideation environment is driven by the freedom of thought exchange between peers, and being too forceful on operational hierarchy may hinder the flow of brilliant ideas that might have been overlooked otherwise.

3. Be a team player as you engage participants

The emphasis here on team play is an extension of the previous point. Not only is it in your best interest to check your ego at the door, but you should also refrain from being adversarial.

Ideations are not a venue for facilitators to overrule and dismiss ideas of other members to demonstrate their superiority. Dream big, be bold, and acknowledge all ideas brought to the table, no matter how absurd they may be. Whatever imperfections exist today can be refined tomorrow. Great leaders have the power to bring out the brilliance in each team member, simply by actively listening and engaging in conversation.

Parker Lee

Parker Lee is the managing partner of Territory, a design consultancy, who has developed and led teams in transformation, design thinking, and business development for decades. Co-author of The Art of Opportunity, he has created and facilitated dozens of design and visual thinking engagements.

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