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« Apache Lucene EuroCon - May 18-21 | Main | How to Brainstorm New Ideas »

May 07, 2010


Great top 8 Zack, I can see you had some more productive meetings than others recently...:) OK, let me try to add to your ideas to get to a top 10:

9. This is Stupid!
A reaction to an idea that has the merit to be straightforward and honest but also to kill the spirit of making innovative proposals, especially among the most recent recruits who can bring a fresh perspective to issues.

10. This is not the company culture
While having a strong company culture presents a number of great benefits it can sometimes paralyse people and limit their thinking. Values and change are not incompatible, actually only change can preserve values.

Great post, Zack, and I couldn't agree more! Here's another one:

11. Isn't there something more useful you can work on?
Usually this comes up when different folks' priorities clash, and they would prefer someone else "get on their track". Unfortunately, different priorities are a reality, and it's often best, IMHO, to acknowledge, and not undercut, the importance of other people's work within the company.


Very interesting post, Zack, it definitely got me thinking!

I have to say there's a flip side to all of that. If people really avoid doing all of the things in your list, it's a great recipe to let great ideas through - and let a lot more horrible ideas through as well.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, most of the things on the list very much depend on the situation, and nothing quite replaces common sense. Learning from the past, which some of the bullets on the list go against in one way or another, is one of the best ways to plan for the future. It's no coincidence that experience is the most valued currency in one's resume. The trick is being able to apply your experience where it's relevant, and not derive wrong decisions from irrelevant past experience.

In the same way, many (if not most) of the ideas people come up with have huge flaws and can generally be described as bad ideas. Turning down ideas is not only legitimate - it's a very important part of running a successful business. The trick, again is being able to tell the good ideas from the bad ones, and create an environment where people feel absolutely comfortable throwing ideas in the air, even if those ideas will not end up being implemented. We've been using that approach in Zend, and it's been working very well for us.

Every point in your list can be true or false, very much depending on the situation (experience, budget, people, market, etc.). If we could just apply this list irregardless of the context, it would have definitely be a simpler world. It isn't :)

Thanks for the interesting comments. The key point (as others have pointed out) is that there is a time to generate ideas and a separate time to evaluate them. Not every idea is worth implementing, but if you are too harsh in your evaluation of ideas (Billg: That's the dumbest idea I've ever heard!) then you tend to create a culture that does not generate new ideas. Instead, you want to nurture ideas, and have so many to chose from that you have the luxury of picking the best of the best. If you discourage risk taking or ideas in general, you'll find no one ever wants to risk speaking up.

Thank you very much for much-needed treatment on how to kill good ideas. I will share with the bosses!

The other day I stumbled accross a free and cool brainstorming tool and free of charge I might add. It works founded on the computation from combining varied aspects of your concept into a list and then the program spins fresh combinations supported on the list, that in turn conjures ideas you would seldom think of. After locating it, I employ it often, because it does help conceptually pretty well. http://brainstorming.purchasepedia.com

I just copied all the subjects,
since I am going to propose new Idea in my company (and since the last one receives all the answers listed) I am adding a slide with this wanderfull summary.

One more way to kill a good idea:

Pretending that you like the idea, but in essence not taking any action, or taking action that takes the idea in the wrong direction.


One more Zack: it will defocus us from what we are doing (which might not be working, btw...).


Hear Hear!

I through in a one liner from General George S Patton,

"A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week."

...& from Sir Winston Churchill..

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm"

I do believe it applies in business as well as in War

Thanks Mark!
This is a great piece of work....and very useful. I hope you don't mind your cousin using some of it.
My best to Gregg!


Great feedback everyone.

Marten, where have I seen that one before? ;-)


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