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How to Kill a Radical Idea

How to Kill a Radical Idea

How to Kill a Radical Idea

    Einstein said that all great original ideas at first appear absurd.  This is why it is so easy to dismiss radical suggestions when they surface.  We point out that they are absurd and so miss great opportunities.  How would you react if an unorthodox business idea was presented to you and you could immediately see problems with it?   Imagine that you are the boss in each of these situations:

    1.  Spectacles manufacturer in the 1960s

    Employee: I think we should investigate a new idea I have heard about called contact lenses.

    Boss: How does it work?

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    Employee: We make prescription lenses that people attach to their eyeballs so that they can see well without spectacles.

    Boss: You mean I stick a piece of glass onto my eyeball?

    Employee: It could be glass or plastic.

    Boss: That is ridiculous.  What if it slipped behind the eye?  What if it damaged the eye?  We could be sued for millions.  No-one is going to want something so dangerous and inconvenient.  Spectacles are safe, cheap and popular.  Let’s focus on doing what we know.

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    2.  Radio manufacturer in the 1980s

    Employee: I read about this guy Trevor Bayliss who has invented a clockwork radio.  It is an interesting idea – do you think we should look at this?

    Boss: Don’t be silly.  I heard about this too.  It will never catch on.

    Employee: Really?

    Boss: Sure.  Let me give you three reasons.  First radios need electricity and the easiest way to get that is through the mains or batteries – that is what consumers and the trade want.  Secondly the radio will have to be really big to contain the winding mechanism.  Third, the radio will suddenly stop in the middle of a programme waiting to be wound up – how annoying will that be?  Customers want convenience – not the bother of stopping to wind up a radio every 10 minutes.

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    Employee: I guess you are right.

    3.  Website entrepreneur in 2000s

    Programmer: I have this idea for a new social media site.

    Boss: Great.  How does it work?

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    Programmer: People can make short broadcasts of up to 140 characters.

    Boss: 140 characters!  Why restrict them?  Can they add pictures, music and videos?

    Programmer: No – it is just a box for 140 characters of text.

    Boss: Don’t be silly.  Facebook and Myspace already offer far more than that.  We need something more exciting than a text box.  How about we copy Facebook and add more features?

    See how easy it is?  Every day in every organisation bosses are rejecting interesting ideas because the ideas look silly.  How can you overcome this problem?  You train people to ask questions rather than be judgmental.  When somebody comes to you with a bizarre idea do not find fault with it; instead ask questions.  How could we make it work?  What are the benefits for customers if this happened?  Is there a better way to do this?

    If you want innovation in your organisation then you must encourage people at all levels to welcome, entertain and explore crazy ideas – they are the ones that can lead to breakthroughs.

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    Paul Sloane

    Professional Keynote Speaker, Author, Innovation Expert

    How to Get Rich: 11 Bold Moves That Guarantee Wealth How to win Arguments – Dos, Don’ts and Sneaky Tactics How to be a Brilliant Conversationalist Think Laterally Write A Killer Resume In Seven Easy Steps

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    The power of habit

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to make a reminder works for you

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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