Set crazy goals.
A useful technique of ours is to set “crazy goals”. Propose something ambitiously advanced, that seems crazy, that people say is impossible. Then challenge them with the wonderfully powerful hanging question “Impossible unless…??”
Use the answers to deconstruct the goal into prerequisites. If they say those prerequisites are in turn “impossible”, repeat the process until you work your way back to something that we agree is achievable. Begin there.
At a client of ours, a generally conservative manager wanted to encourage new thinking, so he unexpectedly announced a desire to do away with a major change control. The reaction was shock that it came from him and consternation over the implications. However, it triggered discussion over what first steps could be taken, and opened the group to new possibilities.