Several years ago, I had the opportunity to sit in a board meeting for a large home building company when the CEO gently pushed back on one of the participant’s ideas which caused the person to back off and withdraw their idea. The CEO said “dang it – if you have a good idea, stick with it! Don’t give up because of my title, if you have a good idea – push back! I always want the best idea to win!”
I liked that – ‘may the best idea win.’ An idea isn’t attached to a title or role – it is just an idea…no matter who created it. Each idea needs to stand on its own merit and not that of the person submitting the idea. As a company, we need to embrace this principle – may the best idea win.
The next time you walk into a meeting – imagine each person is required to take off their title-badge and leave it at the door. In the room, all ideas have equal value and must get vetted – regardless of the submitter. Sometimes these ideas will conflict, and you may need to hash out which is best. Each person needs to discuss the idea and the team is responsible to ensure the ‘best idea wins.’ If you have a good idea – fight for it. If your idea is bad and another is better – allow yours to fall to the wayside and join the others.
We don’t have meetings to talk about how smart the leaders are – we have meetings to strategize and solve issues and each person needs to participate in the solution-creating process. We do this by submitting ideas, vetting others, adapting the best, and ultimately all decide on how to proceed. It is so much more gratifying to participate in these meetings and be part of the solution than to merely be present and watch others creating the best idea. At the end of the best meetings, no one is even certain whose idea it was in the first place…the idea is no longer one person’s idea but instead it is the team’s solution.
Remember this – problems don’t have job titles and so solutions cannot either – in every case, we need the ‘best idea to win.’