How Tim Brown Encourages the Advancement of Bold Ideas

“The faster we make our ideas tangible, the sooner we will be able to evaluate them, refine them, and zero in on the best solution.”
—Tim Brown, Chair of IDEO, Leading for Creativity Instructor

Getting Creative Ideas to Thrive

If you’re a leader, chances are, you got to this point by showing results and having the right answers. But your next mission (should you choose to accept it) is to work on executing bigger and bolder ideas. In fact, it’s no secret that we all have to do this. We constantly have to move good ideas up the chain of command and into the market so that our organizations thrive and have an impact. To do this, one tip Tim Brown recommends is to make your ideas fitter so they can thrive.

But Your Ideas Alone Are Not Enough

In addition to executing bigger and bolder ideas and making your ideas fitter, you’re going to need to get your team and company generating, embracing, and executing on new ideas. One challenge for today’s leaders is how to empower individuals on the frontlines to execute (fit!) ideas. Another technique Tim encourages is framing a challenge using a question. This is a leadership style that you might take on when you want to set the tone for your team to explore new ideas. When you frame a challenge, rather that issuing a directive with a prescribed solution, individuals are more likely to be inspired and engaged in the problem.

Tim calls this leading through questions. He typically articulates a challenge he's posing to the team as a "how might we" style question, like "how might we reimagine the end-of-life experience for ourselves and our loved ones?"

Build a Culture that Supports Good Ideas

In addition to helping your team generate and execute new ideas, another challenge you’ll face as a leader is getting your company culture to embrace new ideas. Unfortunately, the immune systems of our orgs have a funny way of attacking the new. New can be threatening. But Tim believes that the right culture introduces, supports, and reinforces beliefs and behaviors that build a thriving creative workplace.

Tim Brown on Culture

One way we do this at IDEO is through thoughtfully designed rituals—repeatable habits made with the intention of supporting creative work. Rituals help create a culture where people are empowered to be creative within an entire company. They create a constant nudging so that, over time, a culture learns to do something naturally and intuitively. One ritual we have at IDEO is an end of project celebration—a moment where every participant in the project gets recognized in some way. It creates an important sense of completion among teams.

So, as you work to bring original ideas into the world, remember to test your idea fitness, try using questions to pique your team’s curiosity, and experiment with rituals to build more creativity and creative confidence into your company culture.

Collaborate with other creative leaders from all over the globe and learn from Tim in our Leading for Creativity online course. Tim goes deeper on the above concepts of leading through questions and designing rituals for a creative culture in two of the lessons in the course.

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Foundations In Design Thinking - IDEO U Certificate
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