The Synectics Corp., yes they are consultants, has just published a neat little book entitled Imagine. You can’t get it in a bookstore because it’s available free from the firm. My advice: Call the firm up and ask for a copy. It is loaded with great ideas, aphorisms, and inspirational quotes.
Among the many gems of advice for would-be innovators is a list of the many ways to squash an idea.
Synectics, an expert on innovation and change, counts 17 ways. I’ll name the top ten and encourage you to get the book yourself.
- See it coming and quickly change the subject.
- Ignore it. Dead silence intimidates all but the most enthusiastic.
- Feign interest but do nothing about it. This at least prevents the originator from taking it elsewhere.
- Scorn it. “You’re joking, of course.” Make sure to get your comment in before the idea is fully explained.
- Laugh it off. “Ho, ho, ho, that’s a good one, Joe. You must have been awake all night thinking that up.”
- Praise it to death. By the time you have expounded its merits for five minutes everyone else will hate it.
- 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?”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…”
Any of these sound familiar?