Chapter 7. Explore Many Possibilities

In this chapter we’ll look at ways you can harness the power of your team to generate diverse—even wildly impractical—ideas that help lead to innovative solutions. What’s key here is to be deliberate about thinking in an open-ended way, getting rid of constraints and generating ideas separately from evaluating them and making them more practical. This generally happens every cycle, after objectives have been set or revisited (Figure 7-1).

Exploring ideas and deciding which to pursue should happen each cycle, or even multiple times in a cycle
Figure 7-1. Exploring ideas and deciding which to pursue should happen each cycle, or even multiple times in a cycle

During this stage, we must be intentional about driving divergent thinking, because it doesn’t happen naturally. As we build up our expertise and reputation for deeply understanding a domain, what makes it work, and what makes it break, we can tend to shut off being expansive in our thinking. This can lead to blind spots and limitations when we want to innovate. You’ve probably witnessed brainstorm meetings where most of the ideas offered are retreads of things already being done, or pet ideas pushed by a coalition convinced they’ve won the guess-a-thon. Idea generation can also be stifled by those who can’t get past constraints and shoot down new ways of thinking.

Teams also need help productively critiquing ideas as a group to understand what’s working, and to refine those they want to take ...

Get Mastering Collaboration now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.