Let the best idea win, and you will reap the rewards together.
–John C. Maxwell

Do ideas and improvement opportunities flow within your work culture? Are people willing to speak up and share their ideas knowing they won’t be ignored or disregarded?

What about having a suggestion box where ideas can be submitted and evaluated? Naturally all ideas can not be approved; they must be reviewed and the benefit compared to the cost to implement. Nonetheless, encouraging individuals and teams to get creative and collaborate on making things better is almost always a win.

John Maxwell says “Great thinking comes when good thoughts are shaped in a collaborative environment”.

He also shares that great leaders can create a work environment of idea sharing and collaboration by:

1. Listening To All Ideas
No ideas during a brainstorming process should be shot down. Some ideas may seem impossible, but in a collaborative environment, ideas can be built upon and fine-tuned until they become solid.

2. Never Settle For Just One Idea
Keep your options open and don’t be quick to select just one suggestion. The idea is that suggestions will just keep coming.

3. Look For Ideas in Unusual Places
Pay attention to what’s happening around you; what’s working well? What is not?

4. Don’t Take Rejection Personally
Our feelings may get hurt when we think our ideas are the best and others disagree. Listen to those differing opinions; more valuable ideas may surface.

Dedicate a meeting that’s an open forum to discuss improvement in general. Don’t limit it to process improvements and cost savings (although they are very important), but what about having a happier, more effective work culture? Better equipment? Technical support? Flexible work hours? Matrix management? Cross functional teams?

Start by asking “what could we do better”? Create the kind of culture where team members want to collaborate and have no fear sharing their ideas.

When entire companies embrace a growth mindset, their employees report feeling far more empowered and committed; they also receive far greater organizational support for collaboration and innovation.
—Carol S. Dweck