Where do great ideas come from? It’s a tough question to answer, because there isn’t ‘one’ correct answer. Great ideas don’t just come from one source; they come from everywhere – and from everyone. It’s important to create a work environment that fosters and encourages every employee, regardless of position or title, to share ideas.

It seems like a simple concept, right? Most companies would probably be quick to say they encourage all ideas, from each and every employee. But too often, those in charge only listen to and give serious consideration to ideas from the ‘big wigs’ or ‘higher-ups’. Perhaps they put out a suggestion box but never take the time to read what’s inside. Maybe they nod as they listen, but it’s obvious they’ve tuned out and aren’t really hearing the thoughts. Or it could be that they completely brush off the employee and don’t even take the time to listen in the first place. When this happens even once, the chances that person will ever share an idea again are slim to none. If that’s the case at your organization, you could be missing out.

The idea for a great new product, service or ad campaign isn’t necessarily going to come from the vice-president of marketing – though it might, as he or she likely has millions of miles of marketing reports, focus group data and customer preference research. Often, the brightest ideas come from those who work much closer to the product or service. The people who assemble the product, perform the service or design the layout for the new ad.

That being said, encourage all employees to share ideas. And I mean really encourage. It’s more than saying you are open to and welcome input from everyone. Show it. Involve all team members in important discussions. Call out people individually during a group brainstorm and ask what they think. Actively listen when an employee shares a thought – and always give them your feedback. Whether it’s a major decision for a new product launch, such as the slogan, or a minor office detail, like how to better organize the workroom for increased efficiency, let employees know how valuable their input is. An environment where ideas of all kinds and from all members are welcome only encourages creative thinking, problem-solving and perhaps innovation – all pieces to the success puzzle of any company.

Do you encourage ideas from all team members? If not, how could your organization benefit from a more “open door” idea-sharing policy?

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