22 Ways To Kill A Good Idea…

Work sometimes resembles a battle fought with the most subtle of weapons. Have you spotted any of these recently?

  1. Ignore it. Dead silence will intimidate all but the most enthusiastic proposers of ideas.
  2. See it coming and dodge. You can recognise the imminent arrival of an idea by a growing unease and anxiety in the would be originator. Change the subject. Or, better still, end the meeting.
  3. Scorn it. The gently lifted eyebrow and a softly spoken. You aren’t really serious. Are you? works wonders. In severe cases make the audible comment, Utterly impractical. Get your thrust home before the idea is fully explained, otherwise it might prove practicable after all.
  4. Laugh it off. Ho, Ho, ho, that’s a good one Joe. You must have sat up all night thinking that up. If he has, this makes it even funnier.
  5. Praise it to death. By the time you have expounded its merits for five minutes everyone else will hate it. The proposer will be wondering what is wrong with it himself.
  6. Mention that it has never been tried. If it is new this will be true.
  7. Prove that it isn’t new. if you can make it look similar to a known idea, the fact that this one is better may not emerge.
  8. Observe that it doesn’t fit the company policy. Since nobody knows what the policy is you’re probably right.
  9. Mention what it will cost. The fact that the expected saving is six times as much will then pale into significance. That is imaginary money, what we spend is real. Beware of ideas that cost nothing though, and point out, if it doesn’t cost anything, it can’t be worth anything.
  10. Oh, we've tried that before. Particularly effective if the originator is a newcomer. It makes him realise what an outsider he is.
  11. Cast the right aspersion. Isn’t it a bit too flip?, or Do we want this clever-clever stuff? Or Let’s be careful we don’t outsmart ourselves. Such comments will draw ready applause and few ideas will survive collective disapproval.
  12. Find a competitive idea. This is a dangerous one unless you are experienced, you might still get left with an idea.
  13. Produce twenty good reasons why it won’t work. The one good reason why it will is then lost.
  14. Modify it out of existence. This is elegant as you seem to be helping the idea along, just changing a little here and there - by the time the originator wakes up, it’s dead.
  15. Encourage doubt about ownership. Didn’t you suggest something like Harry is saying when we first met, Jim? While everyone is wondering, the idea may wither and die quietly.
  16. Damn it by association of ideas, Connect it with someone’s pet hate. Remark casually to the Senior Manager. Why that’s just the sort of thing John might have thought up. The Senior Manager loathes John. Your idea man doesn’t, and will wonder for weeks what hit him.
  17. Try to chip bits off it. If you fiddle with an idea long enough it may come to pieces.
  18. Make a personal attack on the originator, by the time he’s recovered he’ll have forgotten he had an idea.
  19. Score a technical knock out for instance refer to some obscure regulation it may infringe. Use technology as a bludgeon. But if you’re set on that you’ll need a pulsating oscillograph coupled with a hemispherical interferometer, so you see there should be a negative feed back on the forward rheostat and you wouldn’t like that would you?
  20. Postpone it. By the time it’s been postponed a few times it will look pretty tatty and part worn.
  21. Let a committee sit on the idea.
  22. Encourage the author to look for a better idea (usually a discouraging quest) and if he finds one, start him looking for a better job.

And the antidote to these kinds of attacks?

The antidote is to use the Five Freedoms - more on them next time.