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Fear of bad ideas

I loved this post from Seth Godin's blog, which reflects a lot of the messages that we've been telling for years about the need to accelerate innovation by rapidly finding out what doesn't work.:

Fear of bad ideas

A few people are afraid of good ideas, ideas that make a difference or contribute in some way. Good ideas bring change, that's frightening.

But many people are petrified of bad ideas. Ideas that make us look stupid or waste time or money or create some sort of backlash.

The problem is that you can't have good ideas unless you're willing to generate a lot of bad ones.

Painters, musicians, entrepreneurs, writers, chiropractors, accountants--we all fail far more than we succeed. We fail at closing a sale or playing a note. We fail at an idea for a series of paintings or the theme for a trade show booth.

But we succeed far more often than people who have no ideas at all.

Someone asked me where I get all my good ideas, explaining that it takes him a month or two to come up with one and I seem to have more than that. I asked him how many bad ideas he has every month. He paused and said, "none."

And there, you see, is the problem.

Fear is the key here. Lose fear of failing, of being criticised for having a crap idea, fear of things 'not working', and you'll tap into a huge resource of opportunity. Graham Dodd, engineer and teacher at Arup, asks groups on innovation classes to think through "what couldn't possibly work here?". It's a great way of thinking up bad ideas.

Little do: 1) sometime over the break, write down a clearly stated, important question, 2) take 10 minutes to write down as many solutions to the question that you know couldn't possibly work, 3) see which solutions open new possibilities....


Reader Comments (1)

Wise words

And the line between the really good and the really bad can be a fine one too

December 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMark

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