Thus the man who is responsive to artistic stimuli reacts to the reality of dreams as does the philosopher to the reality of existence.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
If throwing spaghetti against the wall is Step 3—Ideation, seeing what sticks is Step 4, your feelings about the idea. A positive emotional reaction is like the emotional glue that makes the spaghetti stick to the wall. In practice, your reaction happens instantaneously upon hearing the idea… That idea is fantastic! Or, that’s a terrible idea! Every idea runs through an emotional filter, the output of which are the positive ideas that your team will have the emotional energy to pursue.
Excerpt from Teamwork 9.0
What is the first thing that happens when you hear a new idea? You have an emotional reaction. That idea is great! Or, that idea sucks! People inevitably have an emotional reaction to any idea. This emotional reaction corresponds to the dynamic of Enneagram Type 4. The reaction happens subconsciously and instantaneously, and can guide much of our thinking thereafter. These first reactions are important to problem solving, and the team needs to pay attention to them.
At the beginning of the ideation session (Step 3), I explain the first-reaction phenomenon to the participants and acknowledge that they will likely experience this. I instruct them that if they have a positive reaction to an idea it is OK to express that. On the other hand, if they have a negative reaction to an idea, then I ask that they hold their thought and think about why they are having that negative reaction. Once they understand why, then I suggest that they redirect that negative energy in a positive direction and imagine an idea more suitable to them. I encourage them to simply share their new idea with the group without objecting to the previous idea.
Think of this technique as idea jujitsu. In other words, have team members re-channel the negative energy from their reaction into a positive idea they can share with the group. This technique is related to the spirit of “Yes, and…” described above, and will maintain the flow of fresh, new ideas. In this way, the team can maintain a high energy level and a positive tone for the duration of the ideation session.
Since emotional reactions to ideas are instantaneous, in practice I find it necessary to conduct Steps 3 and 4 (Ideation and Emotional Reaction) simultaneously. By having team members process their emotional reactions during the ideation session, I find that the group will naturally migrate towards the promising ideas, those ideas with a positive emotional response. The group will tend to elaborate on the ideas that generate the most positive energy. That positive energy will carry into Step 5, in which the team carefully scrutinizes the most promising ideas.
How do feelings about ideas play into your decision making? Do you assess the positive or negative emotional energy associated with each idea? Do you ensure that that there is enough positive energy behind the ideas you want your team to pursue?
Anytime anyone expresses an idea, you’ll have a reaction. That idea is great or that idea sucks. You can’t help yourself, it happens naturally and instantaneously. Enneagram Type 4 is sometimes called The Artist. They are the type most in tune with the emotional impact of any idea. In step 4, you want to determine the set of ideas that are most favorable to the team. These are the ideas that have the most positive emotional energy, energy your team will need to carry the project through to successful completion. I usually use a simple vote on each idea to make this determination. The combination of the idea, step 3 and reaction, step 4 reminds me of the saying, Throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks.” It’s this combination that allows your team to come up with the ideas that they want to pursue.
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