I was a twenty-year old food runner when my manager handed me a notepad and pen and said, "Write down all of your ideas here."
No one had ever asked me to do that before.
No teacher, no previous boss or manager.
She was the first.
So what did she know that I didn't?
Or more importantly, what did I know that she didn't?
To this day I'm not sure but if I had to guess it would be this:
Between speedy dashes table to table, the Chef's bellowing cry for hands and the varying frequencies and pitches of voices after a few drinks, I was seeing what others weren't.
I wasn't a server, bartender, fry cook, chef, or general manager; I wasn't in the middle of it all with my own set of responsibilities.
I helped who ever needed helping:
If the server was behind on drinks, I refilled them.
If the cook was low on onions, I went and got more.
If the food needed running, I ran it.
This allowed me to see the restaurant's moving pieces as one greater whole.
And I did in fact have some good ideas on how to make it better. But if my manager hadn't given me the permission and outlet to express those ideas, I never would've.
Handing your employees a notepad and pen tells them you don't only value them as co-workers but also as co-creators. It grants them ownership of their environment which incentivizes ideation and the pursuit of positive change.
This in turn lays down the the foundation for a healthy and fruitful internal innovation process.
Luckily you don't have to actually go out and buy a bunch of composition notebooks for your team (you can if you want but they probably won't use them).
Instead go with something digital like Notion, Roam, Slack, or of course—Amble—the solution we built just for this.
But whatever tool and method you go with — make sure to listen, consider, and give feedback. That's what will keep them ideating and your business growing.
This is how we help ordinary people pursue extraordinary ideas.