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1: Ways to kill and ways to help an idea

It is far easier to kill an idea than to encourage it and turn it into a useful solution. Be careful not to destroy people's ideas or they will stop telling you about them and go and tell someone else.

It is extremely hard to sound constructive when someone tells you about an idea they have had, especially if the idea seems foolish and unworkable. But remember, people do not willingly put forward bad ideas in normal situations and you should first try to understand why they are telling you about the idea. There is likely to be something in the idea which is very useful to you. Alternatively you will have the opportunity to help them understand why the idea will not work. You must first understand why they think it will work if you are to explain it in a way that they appreciate.

To kill an idea, say ...

  • A good idea, but ...
  • Good in theory, but ...
  • Be practical, that's too futuristic
  • People won't like it
  • Costs too much
  • Don't start anything yet
  • It needs more study
  • It's not budgeted, maybe next year
  • It's not good enough
  • Too much hassle
  • Let's make a survey first
  • Against the company policy
  • It's not part of your job
  • It is not our problem
  • The directors won't go for it
  • The old timers won't use it
  • Too hard to organize
  • 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?
  • Ahead of its time, people are not ready for it
  • Let's sit on it a while
  • Let's discuss it (*and then not doing so*)
  • We've never done it that way before
  • Has anyone else tried it successfully?
  • We have tried that before and it didn't work
  • Just ignoring what they have said.
  • Is anyone crazy enough to try that?
  • We're already doing that.
  • Let me show it to my manager

    or you can just ignore the person and their idea! (Is this wise?)

To help an idea, say ...

  • Yes, and ...
  • That's a good idea/point/comment
  • Great, let's try it
  • How can we make time to see if it will work?
  • What resources would we need to do it?
  • Let's prove everyone else/the boss wrong
  • Tell me more
  • How can we make it work?
  • Let's try and test it
  • What are the advantages?
  • How can we remove the dis-advantages?
  • Can you draw up a plan of action?
  • What can I do to help this happen?
  • I like it
  • That sounds interesting, tell me more
  • Ignore the way it is done now
  • What small parts of the idea can we use immediately in the current situation?
  • How can we convince everyone else?
  • Let's turn the idea into a workable solution

    and you can

  • look enthusiastic and interested
  • listen and try to understand why it is being suggested
  • not interrupt until they are finished
  • build on their idea

Hopefully you will see that there are many ways in which you can be constructive. There are even ways to encourage an idea without saying you agree or that you will do it. Be on a constant watchout for putting down an idea too early without understanding the positive reasons for it being suggested.

Please email and tell us your own experiences and ways to kill and help an idea and we will add them to our list. The more the better.

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