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Management: Good Ideas Come From Within
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Management: Good Ideas Come From Within - Executive Leadership Articles

Management: Good Ideas Come From Within

Executive Leadership Articles

Management: Good Ideas Come From Within

When someone gives an eighteen-minute TED Talk at the annual conference of “Ideas Worth Sharing,” he or she often experiences something called the TED Effect: a bump in daily recognition by strangers, and often a corresponding bump in book sales. Susan Cain, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Sheryl Sandberg saw it with their books, and not without good reason. Their presentations were excellent, and their books equally so. Yet there is another TED Effect, a ripple felt not by presenters but by their audiences. TED makes its talks free to online viewers, and the trickledown has been significant. Nearly every college student has watched TED videos in classes, and it seems every office has had at least one staff meeting where a TED video was shown, often followed by a discussion or group activity. Sometimes the lectures or meetings are bypassed altogether, replaced by an email with a link. “We won’t be meeting today,” says the message, “but please spend time looking at this TED Talk, and be prepared to discuss next week.”

TED talkers are among the most innovative, respected thinkers in their fields, invited to share a few ideas with an in-person audience who pays thousands of dollars to hear them, so it’s not surprising to see the TED Effect in classrooms and offices, places where good ideas are the fresh air that keeps bodies and brains moving. Showing a good TED video is the internet equivalent of sending a whole office to a national conference, or bringing to campus an esteemed speaker, only most offices and schools can’t afford the likes of Al Gore or Bill Gates. Still, while it’s great to transfuse our environments with fresh blood, the practice of listening to TED talks, attending conferences, and bringing guest speakers can be harmful to the idea-sharing culture. The message over time is that good ideas are had by others, from outside our institutions. Although this is certainly true, it doesn’t mean good ideas can’t or shouldn’t be generated and shared within.

Great ideas are just waiting to be shared, and they will be if given environments where they are nurtured, encouraged, and commented on. Some organizations set aside some meeting time for a Show and Tell, where every week someone has a chance to share anything interesting: a story, an idea, a resource, a lifehack, or some other how-to. Material doesn’t have to be original, but it has to be presented by the speaker, not simply played on a website thrown onto a screen through a projector. The idea is still to bring good ideas from outside, but here they are vetted by members of the team. The long-term target is a culture where ideas are shared and possibly adopted for in-house problem-solving.

The next step is the in-house idea fair. Structured like a conference, it gives members of your team a chance to practice and share an eighteen-minute speech with original thinking, on whatever subject they’re passionate about. Teams wishing to break free from the TED-style speech might look at alternate forms, such as the Pecha Kucha “20 slides, 20 seconds each” format. Whatever the presentation style, the concept here is to explore the good ideas that lie within the hearts (and walls) of your own office space. Sometimes organizations follow presentations with breakout groups whose tasks are to create a plan for implementing one of the day’s ideas by the end of the following week, bridging the gap between ideas and actions, and empowering team members to affect meaningful change.

The message now, after the presentation of in-house ideas, is that not only are your people the resource, but the executors of good ideas, and they will be the ones who reap the benefits of their own creative (or merely practical) thinking. It may take some time to get everyone on board and for the soil to be as fertile as you’d like, but reclaiming fallow land takes time. Stick with the idea, let everyone know that you’ll be doing it again, and give your excellent people time to learn that they’ve got Ideas Worth Sharing. The TED Effect in your office shouldn’t be the repetition of someone else’s ideas, but the inspiration for its denizens to share their own.


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Management: Good Ideas Come From Within - Executive Leadership Articles

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