Have you ever witnessed the moment when a seemingly good idea ignites toddler-like energy during a business meeting? This idea instantly gains support, sparks other good-bad ideas, and causes leaders to assign actions, tasks, owners, and deadlines in which to make it happen.

So…what is the problem we’re trying to solve? Most likely it isn’t the problem that this good-bad idea can fix.

I get it. The allure of a sexy idea can intoxicate the least suspecting, really smart, normal business person. The problem with most of these ideas is that they should remain just that, an idea. Unfortunately, in many cases, we don’t realize these were actually bad ideas until the execution phase after we’ve already invested loads of energy, money, time, etc.

It’s at that point when most awaken from their stupor, with a major good-bad idea hangover. Unfortunately, that’s when the feasibility analysis starts albeit much too late. “What outcomes were we expecting?”  “Did we achieve needed financial results?” And the inevitable question, “So who’s idea was this anyway?” Uh-oh. The poor creative one carries the blame even though there were a lot of others operating under the influence of this good-bad idea.

Additional symptoms include innovation hesitant teams, creatives who restrain their creativity and shell-shocked leaders are now risk-averse and resistant to great new ideas they should actually embrace.

How to avoid the hangover? Pause to assess the feasibility of success before committing. When these ideas are presented, try asking some of the following basic questions:

What problem does this solution solve?

How will we measure our success? 

What risks do we face pre, during, and post-execution?

Describe how this solution aligns with our top priorities?

Pausing during the ideation phase may not be met with as much enthusiasm, like the effect of a good-bad idea, but it will certainly increase the likelihood of more successful innovation and nurture a culture that promotes and encourages creativity.

There is much to be learned by taking risks, failing, pivoting and getting better as a result. This process is called validated learning and is embraced within the most innovative cultures. However, taking uncalculated risks, failing yet not gaining wisdom and neglecting to adopt methods of predicting success before committing to a good-bad idea is, well, just a bad idea.

For additional good ideas on this topic, I encourage you to read the Lean Start Up and the Innovators Dilemma.

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