Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kill New Ideas with the Idea Shredder!

In an earlier post (A Few Good Ideas) about innovation, I concluded by stating: if you don’t how to respond when someone brings you a new idea, you aren’t ready to launch an innovation initiative in your organization.
Why? If you announce, "We want innovation!" but are unable to act when new ideas are brought forth, you are wasting your people's time, energy, brainpower and enthusiasm. People will feel as if their good suggestions are being dumped into the waste bin. The impact on moral is likely to be about the same as having the fictitious Idea Shredder illustrated below.

The Idea Shredder

Let's imagine this device really exists!

For Managers Who Haven't the Time for Input

It looks just a like an ordinary suggestion box...


But inside there's a miniature
but very powerful paper
shredder! Every suggestion is
obliterated in the time
it takes to cry, "EUREKA!"

Twenty Things You Can Say to Kill a New Idea

It's vitally important to avoid the perception that ideas and suggestions are being ignored (i.e., the metaphorical idea shredder). That's why a number of innovative organizations go so far as to train their managers what not to say when someone brings them a new idea. They are taught twenty idea killing, enthusiasm deadening phrases that must be avoided.
  1. Every one knows this!
  2. We have never done this before, no point trying it.
  3. I know it won’t work
  4. This isn’t up-to-date.
  5. Is this within budget.
  6. Too many things to do – will see this when I have time.
  7. Some other time.
  8. Let’s wait & watch for a while.
  9. Why do you want to change things?
  10. Against the rules.
  11. Not technically feasible.
  12. Management will never agree.
  13. Not done in our company.
  14. Makes more work for another department.
  15. Real world is more complicated.
  16. Do you really understand the situation?
  17. Can’t afford it.
  18. This will create too many problems.
  19. Even my advice won’t help.
  20. Can’t you make it better?
The Bottom Line: Saying any of the above in response to a suggestion can be just as discouraging as the Idea Shredder.

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