Stop Generating Useless Ideas, an article by: Gijs van Wulfen

Generating ideas is wonderful. You remember those great EUREKA moments under the shower, while driving or just talking to others.

Unfortunately, the hangover comes always later when you present your ideas to others. They are often less enthusiast than you and raise a lot of ‘BUT’…… questions. Or everybody says it’s a great idea, and nothing happens after all. All of this is so frustrating. I haven been there, seen it , done it and got fed up with it.

Now why are most of the ideas turned down? You could point out that your colleagues, bosses or potential partners are so conservative. And although you might be right, you just don’t get your ideas accepted, if they think they are useless.

Coming up with a lot of ideas might make you a creative person but to be an effective innovator ideas need to get implemented.

After I overcame my frustrations (at later age) I got the feedback and insight that my ideas were useless to my bosses and managers because they were not relevant and didn’t fit their expectations. Sometimes my ideas were way too revolutionary, way too complex or just too big to handle.

How To Generate Good Ideas?

To be effective you have to bring to the table ideas which solve a problem or fulfill a dream in a new simple way and fit (or exceed) the expectations of your management, partners, or investors, otherwise nothing happens.

An essential question is: what do the decision-makers expect?

Most of the times the answer is that they don’t know. So, why don’t you take the initiative to make the expectations of your management explicit before you start generating ideas. This will make you a more effective innovator, because when you know their struggles you can provide them with new relevant solutions.

You even could start to formulate a clear a concrete idea-assignment which forces your management, from the start, to be concrete on the criteria your ideas must meet. You can formulate an idea-assignment with the help of the following six questions:

  1. Why do we need new ideas? (What’s the issue or challenge);
  2. Who will use the ideas? (Internal – external. Who is the target group);
  3. Where will the idea be used? (Which regions, countries, continents);
  4. What are we looking for? (Something evolutionary or revolutionary? Ideas for products, services, processes, business models?);
  5. When do we like to implement it? (Which year do we need this? 2014, 2015, 2016);
  6. Which criteria should new ideas meet? (Extra turnover; less costs; margin %; fits the strategy; investment budget,…..).

The best way to stop generating useless ideas is by ideating new simple solutions, which fit or exceed the expectations of the decision makers. So make their expectations and criteria explicit before you start. This will prevent a lot of personal frustration.

Ps. you can download a pdf with the 6W’s to make an idea-assignment here.

Wishing you lots of success generating more effective ideas!