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February 24, 2017

Confessions Of An "Idea Guy"

February 24, 2017

Yes, I’m one of them, an “idea guy”. I’m that guy in a meeting pitching ideas, drawing on the whiteboard and selling everyone in the room until I wear them down or convert them to my way of thinking. And sometimes, I have great ideas that are very successful – which leads to me bringing more ideas to the mix, arguing more forcefully, etc. So what’s wrong with this approach? If ain’t broke, then why fix it? Well, it can actually be a significant hindrance to the ideation process.

1. Sometimes I have bad ideas and can't see it. Even when the idea is good – the timing isn’t right, or the resources aren’t in place, or there are already other ideas that need to be implemented. The wrong idea isn’t always a bad idea, but it can be the right idea at the wrong time.

2. I crowd out other people and their ideas. When I fall in love with my ideas I have a tendency to stop listening. That means really great ideas are being ignored. It also means that really creative and talented people are being ignored. This is demoralizing and frustrating. And it negatively impacts the business.

3. Process matters. When I railroad ideas through the business I am overriding a proven, tested process to vet and test ideas. But in my enthusiasm, I don’t have the patience for the process, which means that ideas, even great ones, are poorly rolled out.

Does this sound like you? Are you that idea guy or gal with great intentions that sometimes crowds out and derails things? Do not fear, there is help!

Over the past few years, I’ve been learning and practicing design thinking. It’s a problem solving and ideation methodology that brings some needed structure to the creative process. It does this in a way that is human, organic, fun and effective. It has pushed my biases in a healthy way. Putting aside your own beliefs and ideas is step one in the design thinking process, so while I still find myself blinded by my own convictions at times, I have found trust in a process that effectively challenges and improves on my default approach.

Related content:
Why brainstorming sessions are often useless.
What is design thinking?

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