Healthwise founder Don Kemper is an idea machine. His ideas come fast, are diverse, and some people might find it intimidating that he comes up with so many good ones. Even his employees say that “Don does the big innovations; we do the smaller creative stuff.” Kemper has found that he’s typically five to ten years ahead of his organization, let alone his industry. But some worry that his organization might depend upon him too much: the danger of “idea central.”
What can an organization do to encourage more people to come up with new ideas and not depend upon a single person or a key people to come up with (most of the) new ideas? A few thoughts:
Make sure the organization is “porous”–that ideas can flow side to side and up and down.
Try to reduce “silos” and divisions among units to find ways that people can interact informally. Healthwise has a large open entry they use for informal monthly gatherings but people also “bump into” one another coming and going. People from different levels and departments meet by accident and often, when they chat, they often come up with ideas across their departments.
Use the whole pigeon
In Vietnam, honored guest are often invited for dinner. When the meal includes pigeon, the most honored guest receives the best part–the head! While Americans might not think this is so great, in Vietnam, they eat the whole pigeon, including feet and head and beak. Nothing is wasted. If we apply this idea to organizations, that means that you should probably consider, at least initially, any and all ideas. THEN later decide if they are delectable.