The dreaded Big Ideas meeting

2019-11-22

I was in an innovation meeting once at work. I’m sure you all know pretty much how it went.

The boss said his boss’ boss wanted some new, big ideas that could change our department. He sat the team down in a room with a giant pad of paper and told us to start spitting out ideas.

After a few stunned seconds, someone raised their hand and made a suggestion.

“No way,” the boss said. “That’s never going to work. We’re definitely not doing that.”

He didn’t even write it down. We all looked at each other awkwardly.

“Come on,” he said, trying to inject the room with a little energy, “who’s got another idea?”

Nobody, I wanted to say. Nobody in this room will ever share an idea with you again.

But I didn’t say it, because apparently it wasn’t safe to say anything to him except exactly what he wanted to hear. So I kept my thoughts to myself.

When is the last time a version of this meeting played out in your own head?