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Juha Lipponen
24.10.2014
09:50

This is a fourth post of a series of blogs talking about how your daily meetings can be made more participative and efficient. You can find the previous ones here: O phase; P phase; E phase.

You probably are familiar with the following scenario: You are in a meeting that discusses new ideas for developing your business. Ideas are presented and then evaluated. Even if you are fairly educated in ideation methods (you first let the ideas flow – without any kind of critique – and then evaluate the presented ideas in a separate phase), you may have encountered the evaluation of the ideas to be pretty offensive, no matter how well grounded (and even “well meaning”) the critique is. Probably with perfectly solid arguments, some of the ideas are first criticized and then discarded. Then, seeing your own idea “flushed down the toilet” by the rest of the group seldom makes you feel particularly great. Do you agree?

How should you evaluate ideas then? The basis for this can be found by Roy F. Baumeister, Ellen Bratslavsky, Catrin Finkenauer and Kathleen D. Vohs, who write on their widely cited paper ”Bad Is Stronger Than Good” (in Review of General Psychology: http://assets.csom.umn.edu/assets/71516.pdf) as follows:

"Bad emotions, bad parents, and bad feedback have more impact than good ones, and bad information is processed more thoroughly than good. The self is more motivated to avoid bad self-definitions than to pursue good ones. Bad impressions and bad stereotypes are quicker to form and more resistant to disconfirmation than good ones."

In practice, you should then avoid altogether handling the “bad” ideas by picking on their weaknesses and faults. Baumeister et al. suggest that the discussion of the faults of ideas will most probably overwhelm the positive features of actually good ideas during the discussion. Most of us probably can recognize this.

In Innotiimi-ICG’s OPERA method, we have developed Ranking process (‘R’), which is based on positive selection of the best ideas. Discussing the many faults of the “bad” ideas is then not allowed at all. Here, the selection of the best ideas is performed by allowing “plusses” (or ‘likes’, if you will) on the ideas. When the ideas are presented visible for all after the P and E phases, each pair (or individual member) will be allowed to spread a specified number of plusses/likes on the presented ideas, one to each. In addition, there is another catch: You should select no more than ONE suggestion of your own. This will force you find good ideas among the suggestions of other as well.

The zero-liked ideas are then (quietly) removed from the array of ideas without having used any time and energy together discussing the inferior features of the worst ideas. In the end, you are left with the most liked ideas on top, with the added value of prioritization of the best ideas according to the total votes of each suggestion. As the top scoring suggestions have been gathering support from many people, assigning the personal responsibilities taking the ideas further after the meeting will be substantially easier. We will discuss this more in the next blog post of this series.

So, next time you get together putting some development ideas together on a flipchart, try giving your group members a handful of ‘plusses’ or ‘likes’ and ask them to mark them next to the ideas. You will most probably see the huge difference in the positivity in the atmosphere in the group – compared to the traditional “cross-over-the-bad-ideas” evaluation method.

You can read more of Innotiimi-ICG’s OPERA method in an ebook “Opera - Guide for more efficient meetings”, available at https://itunes.apple.com/fi/book/opera/id871050555

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