In today’s rapidly changing environment, businesses need to innovate, or they risk becoming irrelevant. Leaders need to focus on creating an environment that helps their teams to be more inventive and ground-breaking. And it can be helpful to look at the frameworks we use to be innovative thinkers.

At a coaching conference I attended in August, the opening keynote speaker, Diana Kander, author of the book, The Curiosity Muscle, shared the idea of raising the bar for saying yes to an idea by using a 1 – 10 scale. One is at the low end of the scale and 10 is at the top of the scale.

When we think about innovating, we often brainstorm a list of ideas and then pick one or two to start. We consider whether an idea is a yes – let’s do it or no – let it go. What we may neglect to do is find ways to refine how to decide what would be the best idea to pursue.

As leaders, when was the last time in a team meeting that you asked, “How would we rate these ideas on a scale of 1 – 10”?

How does asking this question improve your choice of innovation ideas? Consider these points:

  1. You assess the pros and cons of an idea and then rank it on a scale. The scale becomes a tool to measure the relative value of each idea against other ideas.
  2. Asking others to rank the idea facilitates getting input from the entire team including the people who might not speak up because they are new or junior members of the team or generally are less vocal about sharing their point of view.
  3. If you are ranking an idea, a natural follow up is to ask, “Why are you picking that ranking?” This can encourage people to share more than just their logical reasons for a ranking but also their intuitive feel about the idea or the impact they foresee.

Using this ranking approach demonstrates how using Head + Heart Leadership elevates the leadership and decision-making process. Head + Heart leadership is a skill that super leaders demonstrate when they both think logically about the business AND consider the impact of connection, communication, and collaboration to drive results.

Many leaders naturally default to using their Head when making decisions – being logical. However, using a process of ranking from 1 – 10 adds a Heart component to the logical, decision-making process. Asking the team to participate in the decision through ranking provides more input and collaboration with the team. As human beings we might rank an idea not only on the logical merits but also because we like the idea and want it to be chosen. Ranking helps to quantify the emotional component of people’s thinking. There is nothing wrong with emotion. Many ideas have been successful because the people driving the innovation were passionate about the idea.

So, what are the best ideas to carry out? Kander suggests that if an idea is anything under an 8 then it probably isn’t worth pursuing. The ranking process helps you weed out the ideas with a lower possibility of being successful.

Do an experiment. When considering several ideas, take the time to rank them and decide from there. Get the entire team involved. Then pay attention to what results you get.

Please share in the comments the result of your experiment. I look forward to hearing whether this idea has an impact for you and your team.

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Welcome to the Listening to the Leader in You Blog

Super-leaders arm themselves with insight. This blog is where you’ll find concepts, ideas, resources and more for honing your full set of leadership capabilities. 
Lynn Schaber, MCC
For the past 20 years, I’ve been privileged to partner with individuals intent on cracking the code to leadership beyond the ordinary.