LCS A Simple Way to Keep New Ideas Alive @ Idea Champions, 2002
Have you ever had a really good idea only to have it squashed by the powers-that-be?
You knew your idea was hot. You knew it was going to make a difference. You knew it had the potential of becoming the “next big thing” (or at least the next little thing) – and yet the people you pitched it to just didn’t see its value.
But not only that, they insisted on telling you everything that was “flawed” about it… why it wouldn’t work.. why it couldn’t work.. why the timing was wrong… why it was too expensive… too quirky, too risky and too, too, too, too, everything else.
“Man is so constituted as to see what is wrong with a new thing, not what is right. To verify this, you have but to submit a new idea to a committee. They will obliterate 90 percent of rightness for the sake of 10 percent wrongness. The possibilities a new idea opens up are not visualized, because not one person in a thousand has imagination.” (You know what Charles Kettering, the esteemed British scientist and philosopher, said about this phenomenon?)
This kind of nay saying behavior – often called “idea killing” – has become a kind of indoor corporate sport in America. And no matter how much a company proclaims its commitment to “more innovation,” this sport – like some kind of weird calf-roping event gone wild – continues to entangle even the most inspired of fledgling innovators.
What do idea killers do? They look for what’s wrong with a new idea before looking for what’s right. They judge, ridicule, criticize, denounce, disapprove, trash, diss, dismiss, and evaluate too much and too soon, often shutting down the creative spark in others – a spark that requires far more nurturing and postive regard than most people realize.
You know what it looks like : Frowning Rolling of eyes Folded arms Blank stares But what does it sound like?
1. “We’ve tried that already.” 2. “It’s not in the budget.” 3. “That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard.” 4. “We have enough problems around here.” 5. “The boss won’t go for it.” 6. “When are you going to find the time to do it?” 7. “Why don’t you form a committee?”
Not only is the baby thrown out with the bath water… so is the bathtub.
Of course, not every idea deserves serious consideration, development and funding. Still, many ideas being pitched daily in your organization deserve a much fairer hearing than they are getting.
Why don’t they get a fair hearing? 1. New ideas make most people uncomfortable 2. New ideas usually create new problems 3. Most people are consumed with their own ideas 4. Few people take the time to stop and listen 5. New ideas imply change and most people, no matter what they say, simply don’t like change.
Aspiring innovators tire of being disregarded and eventually: 1. Withhold their brilliance 2. Gripe and grumble 3. Become idea killers, too 4. Quit And the Price Your Company Pays?
If you want to elicit new ideas from others... Start listening and responding in a new way.
Like this: When someone pitches you a new idea, instead of immediately telling them what’s wrong with it, begin instead by genuinely acknowledging what you like about it. (This not only builds rapport with the idea originator, it sets the context for some useful, just-in-time, creative brainstorming.)
Then, after you express your “likes,” you proceed to express your concerns about the idea, but instead of just “hitting and running,” you take responsibility for following each of your concerns with a suggestion, offering ways to improve or refine the idea that has just been pitched.
This process enables the idea originator to get feedback in a humane way. It short circuits the tendency to look for what’s wrong first – a behavior that usually leaves aspiring innovators feeling diminished, disempowered and defensive. Simply put, LCS turns potential “idea killers” into active collaborators. You get the best of another person’s thinking rather than the worst of their hair-trigger, mood-driven analysis.
The result is alchemical. It turns lead into gold.
We’re not saying that LCS is a magic pill. It isn’t. But it is a powerful antidote to idea killing. It neutralizes knee jerk negativity long enough to allow a new idea enough breathing room to have a life after its initial conception. Precisely what new ideas need in the early stages of their development.
Should you use LCS every time someone pitches you a new idea? Probably not. (It might get tedious). But you should use it sometimes – at least when you see the glimmer of a possibility being articulated. And when you want to support the creative process in another. And when you want to do your part to help establish a culture of innovation in your organization.
Ultimately, you have nothing to lose. Oh, maybe a few minutes here and there, but in the end, the extra effort you make to give useful feedback on a new idea may just be the difference between a brilliant breakthrough and business as usual.
SO… Are you willing to do something different in order to get a different result?
When can you try LCS this week? With whom? “If not YOU, who? If not NOW, when?”
“We need to entertain every prospect of novelty, every chance that could result in new combinations, and subject them to the most impartial scrutiny, for the probability is that 999 of them will amount to nothing, either because they are worthless or because we shall not know how to elicit their value, but we had better entertain them all, however skeptically, for the thousandth may be the one that will change the world.” – Alfred North Whitehead
Man, I wish they had LCS back in my day. The wheel would have been invented a whole lot sooner!
Hey, that’s it! Show’s over! Go back to work! If you want to get more cool shows like this*, call Idea Champions at 845- 679-1066 * Ask for the “Innovation Assurance” series.