Agile Development, Programming

How to kill an idea, or help it grow

It is far easier to kill an idea than to encourage it and turn it into a useful solution. Be on a constant watchout for putting down an idea too early without understanding the positive reasons for it being suggested. Hopefully you will see that there are many ways in which you can be constructive.

To kill an idea, say:

  • It’s not part of your job
  • That’s not what we do here
  • Costs too much
  • Against the company policy
  • It’s not budgeted, maybe next year
  • Let the other department handle that
  • It is not our problem
  • Why would you do something like that?
  • We have been doing it another way for a long time and it works fine
  • If it’s so good, why hasn’t someone suggested it already?
  • Has anyone else tried it successfully?
  • We have tried that before and it didn’t work
  • Is anyone crazy enough to try that?
  • We’re already doing that

To help an idea, say:

  • Yes, and…
  • Great, let’s try it
  • How can we make time to see if it will work?
  • What resources would we need to do it? Tell me more
  • How can we make it work?
  • What are the advantages?
  • How can we remove the dis-advantages?
  • What can I do to help this happen?
  • I like it
  • That sounds interesting, tell me more
  • How can we convince everyone else?
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4 thoughts on “How to kill an idea, or help it grow

  1. When a colleague comes to me with an idea (witch doesn’t happen that often, unfortunatelly), most of the time I tell him to work on it to see what comes out of it. And if I think the idea is not good enough, I say – I think this is not going to work, but that doesn’t mean I’m right :)

  2. “Let the other department handle that”

    I had a guy one time email me to work on a project that he needed to accomplish. For some reason, he reasoned that I was actually the one to do the work (a form and requirements documentation) and give it to him, since the “reason” he needed it was named after my department. Then, he would take it and use it. But I was to research and create everything.

    I countered that, since he was the subject expert, he could put together a strawman and we could work on it together. Apparently he didn’t like that, and complained vehemently that I “wasn’t doing my job.”

    Even though I said I would help, I wouldn’t do it for him, and that REALLY pissed him off.

    I replied and CC’d his manager (this was about two emails later, so I didn’t play that card immediately) and described how the process actually worked. I knew his manager and anticipated her response, thankfully.

    She replied then that yes, we should help and look over what he produced, but not do the work of creating the documents. Then she apologized in a separate email and said that the guy was new and, while a go-getter, he was a little lacking in the knowledge of what our department does and doesn’t do, and not to hold it against him.

    Then I never heard from him again. I have no idea if the project ever happened.

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