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How to get people to take responsibility for developing their ideas?
How to get people to take responsibility for developing their ideas?
Updated over a week ago

As in so many other areas, simply forcing people to develop their ideas might result in adverse effects on the development process and results. However, there are things you can do to motivate people to take up more responsibility for developing their ideas, which is the key to eventually having an organization that keeps improving at a rapid pace, again crucial for having a competitive advantage in today’s rapidly changing world.

Often the biggest challenge is that people in most organizations have gotten used to being in a passive role where they simply report their ideas, then someone else makes a go/no-go decision and yet another party will be responsible for implementing that. While this kind of process is often necessary, that's not always the case, especially when it comes to small incremental improvements. In these cases it would be much more useful for people to take initiative and develop their ideas further by themselves.

However, this requires a fundamental shift in mindset and won't happen overnight. The initiative needs to come from management. It is their expectations that eventually lead to whatever behavior the organization ends up doing. Thus, one should strive to change this mindset by requesting people to take more responsibility and rewarding them for that. In addition, certain skills are needed as well.

It's crucial to understand that ideas aren’t born perfect. They usually require further testing and development before they're ready to be implemented. It’s crucial that you’re able to communicate the need for an iterative process to the participants.

Innovation advocates and subject domain experts (category admins in the Viima tool) have a key role in this. It is their job, first and foremost, to ask the right, often tough, questions at the right times. This will dramatically improve both the ideas themselves, as well as the critical thinking abilities of the participants going forward.

This kind of an iterative process requires constant initiative from the category admins, as well as an ability to serve as a “virtual mentor” for the participants. If the category admins remain passive or simply critique the ideas without providing the coaching to take them forward, the participants are likely to remain passive.

On top of this, you can also use the right kind of incentives to boost participation. For ideas that actually show promise or are accepted for implementation, you can offer recognition both, to the individual who came up with the original idea, and to those who helped mold it to its current state. One way to do that is to offer them the possibility to serve as project managers in the upcoming implementation project.

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