10 Ways to Kill a Good Idea

10 Ways to Kill a Good Idea

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January 9, 2016

These are the days of collaborative working, breaking down boundaries, climbing out of silos, and looking elsewhere for inspiration. Whether you’re looking for a new angle on your marketing campaign, striving for that unique factor that will give your business an unbeatable competitive edge, working on the next phase of product development, or just sitting round the table trying to anticipate future customer demands… you need ideas. Unfortunately, when the ideas do come – good, bad or indifferent – all too often they are strangled at birth before anyone has time to explore them fully. Here are ten of the most common ways to kill a good idea stone dead.

  1. Use your idea radar and take evasive action.Sometimes it’s possible to recognize the signs of a soon-to-be-voiced idea: the ‘suggester’ may appear anxious or a little nervous, you hear them building up to it with preparatory statements like, “What we really need is…” The best option is to change the subject, move on to the next agenda item or best of all, close the meeting – that way the idea will never see the light of day.
  2. Pour scorn on it.This doesn’t have to be dramatic, simply raise an eyebrow and in a quizzical tone of voice ask, “Do you really mean that?” and watch their confidence wilt. This is best done early, before any compelling details or facts have emerged that might begin convincing people.
  3. Or do the exact opposite and praise it to the heavens.Be so overenthusiastic about the suggestion that everybody (even, eventually, the idea’s originator) will wonder what’s really wrong with it
  4. Burst out laughing.Laugh as if it’s the funniest thing since yesterday evening’s YouTube compilation of amusing cat videos – few people can genuinely withstand ridicule.
  5. Pay it no heed.Ignore it. Dead silence is one way of taking the wind from the sails of the person making the suggestion, but you can also either change the subject or just keep talking about something else; either will ensure that they get the message.
  6. Calculate the cost.Usually the thought of spending now (even if it’s to save later) is a major dissuading factor. After all, payment now is real, savings later are speculative. On the other hand, if the idea costs nothing, simply note, “You get what you pay for.”
  7. Be casually dismissive.Say something like, “Isn’t that a little too clever?”, or “We don’t want to outsmart ourselves here,” or even just the enigmatic, “Hmm… interesting… I suppose…”
  8. Be negative.Point out that it’s never been done before; genuine innovation usually scares people.
  9. Be pessimistic.Or if it has been done before, then observe that the idea isn’t new; in fact, it’s been done before and there must be a reason why we’re not still doing it now, ergo it clearly didn’t work then, why should now be any different? Better yet, casually mention that the idea has already been adopted by a competitor; that way, if this idea is in fact different in some way, probably no one will notice.
  10. Cite policy.If the idea is really new or innovative it probably goes against some aspect of your business’s normal procedure or culture. By saying it doesn’t fit with the way we do things round here, you will successfully distance the idea from implementation.
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