Several years ago, I was in a small-group setting when someone offered a new way to fix an old problem. The response from one person at the table was a quick dismissal of what was being proposed. Unfortunately, the oxygen for creative thinking often leaves the room after that kind of exchange.
Who decides whether an idea is good or bad? Is there a need to be more measured in our response to something we are hearing for the first time?
Just as there's more than one way to skin a cat, there's more than one way to kill an idea.
Here are ten ways to dash even the most promising ideas, courtesy of The Synectics Corporation:
1. See it coming and quickly change the subject.
2. Ignore it. Dead silence intimidates all but the most enthusiastic.
3. Feign interest but do nothing about it. This at least prevents the originator from taking it elsewhere.
4. Scorn it. "You're joking, of course." Make sure to get your comment in before the idea is fully explained.
5. Laugh it off. "Ho, ho, ho, that's a good one, Joe. You must have been awake all night thinking that up."
6. Praise it to death. By the time you have expounded its merits for five minutes everyone else will hate it.
7. Mention that it has never been tried before. If the idea is genuinely original, this is certain to be true. Alternatively, say, "If the idea's so wonderful, why hasn't someone else already tried it?"
8. Say, "Oh, we've tried that before"—even if it's not true. Particularly effective with newcomers. It makes them realize what complete outsiders they are.
9. Come up with a competitive idea. This can be a dangerous tactic, however, as you might still be left with an idea to follow up.
10. Stall it with any of the following: "We're not ready for it yet, but in the fullness of time..." — "I've been wanting to do that for a long time, but right now..." — "Let's wait until the new organization has settled down..."
© Bredholt & Co.