Receptivity to Ideas
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This technique suggests that you turn around your traditional way of approaching ideas offered from other people that may initially seem ‘half baked’ ‘off the wall’ or naïve. The method recommends that you be more receptive to such ideas as they could contain the seed of a ‘prize’ idea.
This thought process is particularly relevant when responding to non-experts, whilst it is accepted that they do not understand the area they are talking about, similarly they are not indoctrinated by conventional wisdom about ‘what cant be done’. Harriman (1988) describe two Synectics techniques to improve receptivity:
- Once the speaker has offered his thoughts, repeat them back to him using your own words, but keeping as close as possible to the essence of their idea, for instance you could say ‘If I understand this you are suggesting that…’ Do not evaluate or give an opinion on his thoughts, you are trying to establish a mutual starting point and understanding, evaluation comes at a later stage.
- If the speaker agrees that what you have repeated, then you can move swiftly on to the next stage. However if this is not the case, get the speaker to explain further, and try again saying something like ‘Ok, let try again, am I right in saying that the core of your idea is that…’ Continue with this paraphrasing until the speaker confirms your understanding. This stage is essential because it double checks you understanding of what is being suggested, but more subtly shows you are interested in what the speaker is saying.
- After the paraphrasing you need to work towards transforming the idea into a workable solution. Divide your response into positive elements (pros), and negative elements (cons)
- Pros should be precise and genuine; listing at least one more pro than come easily, often a valuable avenue of thought is opened by that last, hard-to-give pro. This acknowledges the contribution of the speaker and creates better understanding of the problems components
- Cons should be looked at one at a time, phrasing each one so that it encourages solutions; start with ‘how to’, redirecting discussion toward solving the problem. For example if the con is ‘its expensive’ try saying ‘how can we make it less expensive?’ As you consider each con in turn, correcting it will transform the original idea. The final solution may barely resemble the original thought.
- A developmental response centres attention on the parts of the idea to be preserved, those ideas often overlooked in the initial rush to identify imperfections. It is a process of transformation, going from constructing fresh ideas into ultimate concepts, motivating participants along the way. It expresses a manager’s intention to resolve the problem and aims discussion to what needs to be accomplished, dismissing nobody in the process.