Welcome to the Summer Camp Leadership blog. For those of us who lead summer camps, making a positive difference in the lives of young people is our passion. Turning that passion into a reality, however, takes more than the ability to lead songs, teach archery or plan craft projects. Creating camp experiences that truly transform lives takes leadership. Leadership that creates a vision for the future, leadership that inspires and engages others, leadership that remains focused and stays the course. My hope is through this blog you'll find ideas, inspiration and tools to help you be a great summer camp leader.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ideas: What Grows Them & What Kills Them

How do you stimulate your staff to think creatively? How do you build a camp culture that encourages new ideas and innovative approaches to solving problems? Carol Goman, an author and consultant, specializing in creativity, suggests that how people react to new ideas has a cumulative effect in shaping whether an organization encourages or discourages creativity. 

Idea Killers
We tried it before.
It would cost to much.
That's not my job.
That's not how we do things.
You might be right be right, but...
You can't do that here.
That will never work.
It's good enough.
If it ain't brought, don't fix it.

When the response to a new idea is one of these statements, the idea gets killed not just for now but in the future as well. In addition, these reactions send a message to others who might have new ideas that proposing them involves the risk of rejection. The subtle but clear message is keep your mouth shut.

In order to encourage new ideas and a culture that fosters innovative thinking, Goman suggests leaders respond to new ideas with what she calls "idea growers."

Idea Growers
How could we improve...
How can we build on...
What have we missed?
Who else could be affected?
What would happen if...
Who else has a suggestion? 
I don't know much about that...who does? 
How many ways could we...?
May I ask you a question?

Next time a staff member proposes an off the wall idea that you doubt will work think about how you respond. Is your reaction going to encourage more creative thinking or stifle it? Is it an Idea  Killer or an Idea Grower