How to take an idea from good to great

What most people don’t realize about evaluating ideas is that we do it far more frequently during informal discussions than we do in a structured setting. That means we are much more likely to have a new idea presented to us without any warning. In those moments, POINt (also called “Praise First”) is an ideal evaluation tool that is uniquely suited to having a creative conversation.

The real power of POINt lies in its ability to affirm the person pitching an idea by affirming the idea itself. Let’s peel back the layers and see how easy it is to turn an impromptu proposal into a creative thinking opportunity.

When someone comes forward to share a new idea, our typical response is to skip over what we like about it – the positives – in favor of critiquing what is missing. Just like in a brainstorming session, the key to an effective response in this moment is to defer judgment just long enough to assess an idea’s actual merits.

“Here’s what I like about …” or “Yes, and …” is a very effective way to respond to someone asking for your input on their novel thought. Even in the unlikely event the idea really isn’t novel, you’ve just been given a chance to build rapport with a colleague. Instead of turning something down that may have value, why not acknowledge and explore what the idea (and the person behind it) has to offer?

Spending some time considering why a new idea has value can and should give way to assessing the opportunity it promises. If you’re willing to look at a proposal with an eye toward value, it should “automagically” open you to your own creative thought. What potential might be here? Where might this thought progression lead? This is where your own creative energy can kick in, and lead to an even better potential breakthrough. Phrases like “wouldn’t it be great if …” and “how might we …” are great statement starters to open a new round of brainstorming and refining an idea into a potential solution.

By now you’re probably thinking, “when do I get to critique?”. This is the time! Once you have given some positive thought to an idea, then built on its potential, it’s time to look at the issues which might block your creative efforts. Who is likely to support or resist your proposal? What shortcomings or oversights could kill your idea in its tracks? What factors affecting the outcome of your ad hoc creative collaboration need to be addressed? This is the time to surface those concerns so you can address them.

Once you know what barriers to success might be in front of you, you’re ready to look at some New thinking. This is the moment your collective energy can bring insight into overcoming issues. What are some ways to engage stakeholders who might be for or against the idea? How might you overcome the issues you identified? While you always want to look for novel approaches, the new thinking here should also be specific.

Immediate takeways for any team

The ultimate goal of using POINt to have a creative conversation is that you build trust and collaborative momentum with a team member. The happy byproduct is that you come away with a new or improved direction for implementing something special.

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