It Wasn’t Your Idea
If you have a good idea it’s very easy to boast about it. And if you are always having good ideas then you will be doing a lot of boasting. Although understandable, this is not a good idea at the best of times and if you’re a boss, it’s a very bad idea.
A successful business needs innovative and confident people whom you have empowered.
How you deal with ideas is at the core of this:-
1. If you are the boss and have a bright idea: talk about it as `our idea’ not yours.
2. Create an atmosphere where people feel they can come up with ideas even if they may be in some way flawed.
3. You build on their ideas, never knock them down. “That’s a nice idea but what if we also did such and such?”
At a Sports Revolution management meeting recently, I gave the team what I thought was the benefit of my decades of experience to solve a knotty problem, concluding with a firm recommendation. One of the director’s said “Yes, but what if we do x, y & z instead?”
I instantly realised his idea was better and I said “Forget what I just said, his idea is much better than
mine – let’s go with that!” The others chuckled at my lightning about-turn and we got on with it.
I was quite proud of that moment as we’d demonstrated flexibility; no hierarchy and that the best idea should always win.
4. Never steal other people’s ideas.
I was once at an ad agency in a junior role when a new director arrived and from the outset claimed the credit for any new idea. It created a seething hotbed of loathing in record time and was a distraction to the business.
5. Be greedy for ideas – “borrow” them from your competitors and from other industries. I have personally benefitted hugely from this.
I’m often described as “the inventor of the modern media agency”. There were a number of reasons why this happened:
a) back in 1972 advertising was an industry which despite all its creativity with ads was hugely reactionary as a business;
b) my stubbornness and total naivety;
c) I had wonderfully empowering bosses;
d) the rapid expansion of media vehicles;
and as is often the case,
But my `lightbulb moment’ was seeing that computer manufacturing and software design were originally regarded as inseparable inside the same company. Then it was realised that they were entirely different skills and businesses and the technology industry has never been the same since.
It made me think: “Isn’t creativity and media inside ad agencies totally comparable with that?” It was an idea pinched from another industry and marked the start of a $400 billion new business sector.
You could of course, wonder why, if one was right in at the start of something big like this, CIA/Tempus had less than 2% of this market by the time we sold. But that’s another story!