On Tuesday, we looked at how to get the entire company involved in idea generation. One of the key steps we highlighted was to give feedback on every idea. Giving good feedback is an art form in and of itself. When you open idea generation up to your whole company, you are going to get all kinds of ideas. Here are a few types of ideas you might encounter and how to respond to them.
The vague / unclear idea. You know the type. It’s not well thought out. You have no idea how you would turn it into a concrete idea. Maybe there’s potential in there somewhere but you don’t even know where to begin. The best way to give feedback on this type of idea is to ask for a concrete example. Ask the suggester to tell you more about how this might work. What would it look like?
The irrelevant idea. it might be a good idea … for somebody else’s business. But you have no idea how to apply it to your product. The best way to respond to this is to bring it back to the evaluation criteria. At my company, I might ask, how does this help someone get hired? Does it drive applies? Does it improve a job seeker’s chance of getting an interview?
The impossible idea. Maybe it’s a good idea. Maybe it’s not. It doesn’t matter. Because it’s impossible. Okay, maybe not impossible, but really hard. For this type of idea, first ask yourself, if we could do this, how would it impact your business. If this is a game changer, maybe you need to try to reframe it so that it becomes possible. But if it really is a pie-in-the-sky idea with little business value, then you need to tread delicately here. What do you know that the suggester might not know? How can you help them see for themselves that the idea is impossible?
The practical quick idea. Reward this idea by building it. If it’s a good idea and it’s quick to implement, just do it. Nothing will inspire more ideas like seeing ideas get implemented. Don’t hesitate. Just build it.
The good idea that will take time. Reward this idea with immediate feedback. Be clear that it’s a great idea. Explain why it may take some time to implement. As you make progress, make sure you keep everyone updated. Manage the delay between idea and implementation with lots of communication. You want to make sure people continue to believe that their ideas have a chance of being implemented.
More often than not, people just want to be heard. You will never be able to implement every idea that people suggest. In fact, you won’t even be able to implement every good idea. But if you are diligent about providing good feedback on every idea, you’ll never have a shortage of great ideas to consider.
What are other types of ideas that you encounter that are hard to give feedback on?