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6 Ways to Kill A Good Idea
According to my Dad
Sorry to the rest of the subscribers reading this but my #1 most active reader according to Substack is none other than my Dad.
25 emails sent / 25 emails opened and read.
My Dad is now retired and living in the woods of Canada. But in his day he was an absolute juggernaut of a businessman. He started out selling calculators door to door and built his career from there, rising to a VP of Sales at Unisys (a Billion dollar company) before leading several other companies. He has had the biggest influence on my life and also my career, without his advice, help and confidence in me I wouldn’t be where I am today.
So when he sends me business advice I usually take it.
Over the weekend he was cleaning out his desk and sent me a text. It was a picture of a piece of paper he found. It simply said:
6 WAYS TO BURY A GOOD IDEA:
It Will Never Work
We Can’t Afford It
We’ve Never Done It That Way
We’re Not Ready For It
It’s Not Our Responsibility
We’re Doing Fine Without It
There is a lot of talk in the start-up world about the importance of innovation. From a product perspective as well as a Go-to Market perspective.
I have talked a lot about how to foster a marketing team that innovates, thinks creatively and generates and executes a ton of great idea.
But his note is an important reminder. As crucial as it is to foster all of the great things that generates ideas it is as equally important to understand and spot all of the idea killers.
They come out in meetings, off the cuff comments but they can absolutely kill some of the best ideas inside of your company.
And once the idea killers start spreading you find people stop bringing ideas to the table all together. Telling themselves the company doesn’t have the budget for this new idea or that it is too foreign of a concept so why even bring it up.
As a marketing leader or founder at your company it is critical your team knows that nothing is off the table. One of my favorite ways to bring all of those ideas to the surface that is through a monthly brainstorm.
So what are the keys to running good brainstorms that can actually improve your marketing efforts?
Keep a normal cadence - people generally can't do their best creative thinking in crisis mode. the best time to do brainstorms isn't after you missed a quarter. Build a regular cadence for this exercise.
Lead by example - Throw out the biggest or worst idea to get people to understand this is a safe space. There are no bad ideas. There should be no negative feedback.
Quantity over Quality - The goal of a brainstorm is to generate a lot of ideas, focus on narrowing it down to just the good ones later. The more ideas get thrown out the more others can feed off of them and generate more ideas
Have a structure to the meeting - Don't just pull everyone into a room, stand in front of a whiteboard and ask for ideas. Try one of these formats instead.
Set the stage for the goal you are trying to impact and Ask folks to come to the meeting with ideas already in mind.
Use the 6-3-5 method: 6 people generate 3 ideas in 5 minute—in just a half an hour you will have generated 108 ideas.
Random matching - have people write down 10 random items ( a coffee cup or shoe for example). Then they have to take the list and tie it into a marketing idea. You will be amazed at the unique ideas that come out of this.
Most importantly, actually implement some of the ideas generated, report back on them and share the results. Nothing worse than a brainstorm where nothing comes of it.
And be sure to squash any idea killers that come up.
Thanks for reading!