The response in the room was silence. Everyone counted, one, two, three, waiting for Jeanine to nod her head indicating that the discussion was over. Today would be different.
The team knew that the less they contributed, the less they could be held accountable. Jeanine would describe an issue or a problem, and then ask for ideas. No one ever had any ideas. No ideas meant no accountability. The team was not doing this on purpose. Most counterproductive thinking is unconscious.
Productive thinking requires conscious thought. It most often happens by design, rarely happens by chance. Jeanine’s statement of the issue played right into the hands of chance. “The customer is complaining that their product is always late, even though they know it was manufactured by the deadline. Does anyone have any ideas?”
Chance of an idea? Fat chance.
We changed Jeanine’s question to make it more specific. “In what ways can we move the customer’s product from our manufacturing floor to the staging area and onto the truck in less time?” Suddenly, there were seven ideas.
Productive thinking happens by design. Make your question more specific. You will get more ideas.