How many ideas have you rejected this week? It’s tough to keep track given the velocity they come at us. (Heck, we get bombarded with 34 gigabytes of information including 100,000 words a day, not to mention what we think up for ourselves.)
As children most of us were thoroughly trained to censor our thoughts before letting go with the ridicule inducing comment. (The Cubs are going to win the pennant! – ah, some of us never learn.) This sometimes serves us well. In the world of ideas it can be deadly.
Ideas are fragile things in business. Any number of stray comments, poor politics, and concerted efforts at logic can drive a good idea (and it’s conceiver) into the mud. Problem is, most of the tools we use early on to sift through ideas are little more than personal opinion. But decisions must be made and so politics end up playing a very large part in determining what ideas receive funding and what don’t.
Ideas that at first seem terrible, yet stick, came to mind following a tweet from Nate Towne (@fancy_lad), a favorite follow from Milwaukee.
Yes, a yodeling pickle seems very much the definition of a terrible idea. Logic indicates that pickles do not yodel. At best they crunch.
Archie McPhee novelty maker. And the Yodelling Pickle is born. Doing reasonably well I assume. Ranked #1 Amazon noisemaker #3780 Amazon toy.
Rather respectable for a Pickle.
The Yodelling Pickle is deceptively attractive for a novelty company. Unexpected. Maybe viral. It reminds me of my own family’s favorite dinnertime device – A pepper grinder in the shape of a chef who yells “You’re Breaking My Back” every time pepper is ground. (Encourages extreme pepper use on the plate next to you. You’ve been warned.)
Obviously the Yodelling Pickle would be a terrible idea for GM. For Archie McPhee it is so delightfully terrible it has raced around the strategic track right back to brilliant.
Filtering through ideas has a lot to do with context.
It’s been my experience that companies with strong product development pipelines have three basic things in common. They know what they are, they know what they want to be, and they make clear decisions about what to pursue with their resources. Less waffling. More impact.
This is true about individuals as well. The more talented you are the more decisions you have to make about what you are not going to be. No decisions, no focus.
In the forward to Kevin Maney’s Trade-Off, Jim Collins describes a key conclusion Maney made “about the best people he’d covered:
“They have the courage to make rigorous choices. They don’t delude themselves into thinking they can do everything, so they focus on only what they can do with great distinction.”
To me that is a powerful paragraph. I think it plays as well for an organization as it does for an individual.
Are you focused on ideas that will maximize your impact or are you waiting for something else to make those decisions?