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“Date an idea, but don’t marry it,” Gert Garman quipped at CUES’ Directors Conference in December. After all, getting too stuck on an idea stops it from evolving.

Founder of Broad Perspective, Orlando, Fla., Garman is an expert on generating good ideas. Here are some tips on generating good ideas that she shared during her lively presentation.

  1. Think like a kid. Adults say, “No, consider the consequences.” Also, be open to good ideas when you’re being playful or relaxing—such as when you’re bicycling, showering or cooking.
  2. Use language that supports idea generation. For example, “Yes but” closes down a conversation, whereas “Yes, and …” leads to more ideas.
  3. Don’t make assumptions, period. Look closely, she advised. There are member needs and then there are things that you think are member needs. See the difference.
  4. Reference your “human library.” Garman once worked with a restaurant chain that wanted its locations to be places of escape. So Garman brought in experts from spas and hospice and learned from them what helps people feel comfortable and at ease.
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