Friday, January 27, 2023

Harvard Business Review: How the best teams keep good ideas alive

loss leaders Everyday decision-making faces increasing pressure to include more voices, but many leaders find it difficult to create a voice on their own. culture Where employees are empowered to speak with ideas and implement them.

We spent two years tracking examples of creative employee ideas to improve organizational or team performance.

The ideas that were implemented shared a process that we call “Voice Farming”, The process through which employees help implement ideas expressed by less powerful members of the team. There were five specific strategies we saw team members engage in: extend, grow, validate, model, and raise issues.

enhance

Publicly repeating someone else’s good idea can help propel that idea forward. Amplification allows anyone who hears a good idea to make sure it doesn’t get lost.

develop

Giving an idea is useful in interdisciplinary teams, where people of different occupations and genders often speak to each other using different jargon and linguistic patterns. Building on each other’s ideas helps make them readable to the whole team.

legality

Supporting ideas you believe in is critical to your success. Prevents the ideas of less powerful members from being dismissed.

giving examples

Finding a way to show preliminary evidence that a previously dismissed idea is feasible and important may help revive it. Taking the initiative to demonstrate how an idea might work in practice can spark discussions that help keep it alive.

raise issues

Publicly pointing out the weaknesses associated with an idea can keep it alive, giving collaborators the opportunity to openly generate solutions and address concerns directly. Raising issues is not about silencing, but about recognizing that it can take time and work towards an idea.

promoting voice cultivation

By starting to cultivate voice for their teams, leaders:

  • They set the tone in which team members can help each other or give each other the benefit of the doubt;
  • They promote teamwork, rewarding members for developing others’ good ideas;
  • They provide hands-on practices in which teams can participate and get to know each other;
  • They create a framework of accountability with the good intentions of the leaders themselves.

Here are two tools leaders can use to foster the cultivation of voice in their teams.

choosing the right strategy

By sharing the concept of voice cultivation with their teams and helping members implement the cultivation strategy, leaders can set the stage for active voice cultivation. Doing so can have the secondary benefit of letting leaders emphasize that they believe each person has an important contribution to making in generating ideas and implementing them.

consider the environment

Voice cultivation strategies are most powerful when they provide an answer to why an idea was initially rejected. For example, if those in power to flag down an idea do not think it is important or feasible, promoting it is the wrong strategy, but legitimizing it may provide the support needed to pursue it.

This is especially true of ideas that ask those in power to give up or change something that is important to them. In such cases, it is important to present the problem in order to foster the opportunity for joint problem-solving and solving.

(Patricia Satterstrom is Assistant Professor of Administration at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University. Michaela J. Kerisi is Assistant Professor of Administration at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. Julia DiBenigno is an Associate Professor at the Yale School of Management Professor in Organizational Behavior.)

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