Bad Ideas Hurt
Bad ideas are a threat to your company, but they are also an inevitable and necessary process to get to the great ideas. Without bad ideas, the creative process falters. Ideas only become a threat when their “badness” is not recognized fast enough and wastes valuable resources and time.
Countless companies make the mistake of investing their most valuable resources into a mediocre idea that then goes sour. For those of you who have some gray hair, think New Coke (1985), which replaced the original Coke, and Lay’s Wow chips (1998), which were made with Olestra to make them low fat but caused serious stomach issues for consumers. For the rest of you, think Blackberry’s Playbook tablet, Microsoft’s Vista operating system and Netflix’s Qwikster (the split off of their DVD mail order business). All of these products consumed serious company resources, did not provide a return on investment, and in some cases damaged the companies.
According to a Fast Company interview with Ram Charan, best selling co-author of The Game-Changer: How you Can Drive Revenue and Profit Growth, innovation is turning an invention into revenues and profits or something a customer uses. If a company’s success rate is 100 percent, then it isn’t taking enoughrisk. Killing bad ideas is vital to making a company the best it can be.
How To Kill a Bad Idea
When it comes to the future of your company, don’t let a lousy idea hinder your success. Forbes guest columnist Jeff Schmidt got us thinking about the best ways to kill bad ideas.
Here is our top 6:
1. Play Devil’s Advocate. Identify all of the ways the idea could go wrong. Point out the potential flaws and worst case scenarios with each step and implementation of the idea.
2. Talk About Costs. Discuss your budget and the costs of every aspect of your idea- marketing, information technology, development, etc. Will this idea be cost effective in the long run?
3. Demand Specifics and Proof. Hash out each and every detail. Answer the important questions: What steps should be taken? How long will it take to execute your plan? Has it been done before by anyone else? How long will it take for your company to see a return?
4. Don’t Over Think It. Gut feel is actually a pretty good barometer and when paired with some data can be a guide for moving quickly. If it is taking a long time to make a go/no-go decision, then that is probably a sign that it’s a bad idea.
5. Focus On Your Customers. Is there truly a need for this idea in the market right now? Will our customers find value in this idea?
6. Think Win-Win. Dump the win-lose mindset. Saying no to this idea could mean saying yes to another better idea. If this isn’t the winning idea, your next idea could be.
Killing Bad Ideas Since 1995
At Eidson & Partners, we are proud to say that we’ve killed off as many products as we’ve launched on behalf of our clients. We believe that nixing a bad idea before it becomes a drain allows all the time, energy, and money that would have been poured into a flawed product to be applied to a more promising idea in the portfolio. When you kill a bad idea, you breathe life into a good one.
Accelerating Bad Ideas into the Trash Bin
Through the SparkLabKC Accelerator process this idea has been confirmed for us over and over. We’ve seen a lot of bad ideas in our application process, and we’ve even let a few into the program. We know that investing in the team is the most important first step. We focus our accelerator program to tease out the bad ideas, then help our founders pivot to an idea that will really work. The 90-day program also keeps ideas from getting stale. If they can’t be fleshed out and tested in that time frame, then the idea is likely off target.
We embrace the “fuzzy front end” process when we are helping entrepreneurs and bigger company execs to develop products. We ditch bad ideas quickly so we create room for a better idea that can make a business thrive.