Fear of the Fresh Start

innovation garbage can.jpg

Throw away your lowest performing, most confusing product or idea. Do it. Now. Throw it away.

Okay, let's make it again. A fresh start, if you will. How would you go about it differently? How would it look, act, or feel different? No! Do not go over and pull it out of the trash to get ideas - they're already in your head, and that is half of the problem.

Let's start with a couple questions:

  1. If it's your lowest performing or most confusing product or service - why do you still keep it around?
  2. Do you know all the reasons it is at the bottom of the list? I'm sure you know most of them - jot them down. If you aren't quite sure - it might be time for a customer survey.
  3. What is a good estimate of the percentage of time it took to support or maintain this product or service compared to how long it took to support or maintain the other products or services you offer?

Chances are you answered that you keep it around because you felt the effort to create a new version or replacement was going to be much more. You know all the issues with it, and that it uses up a lot of your time to maintain. You likely also bring with you thoughts of designing something new bringing a mixed bag of uncomfortable feelings, among which includes fear - fear of failure, fear of criticism, fear of the unknown.

Ideas to help you get past the roadblocks above:

  • Design the replacement as if you had no one else to please - no colleagues to make you self-edit during the process and cause the final idea to be limited from the start.
  • If you had all the time, money, resources you needed at your disposal - what would you design given no constraints? Scaling it back can be easier than scaling up (that's the issue you already have, right?)
  • Involve others in the process who have no vested interest in the outcome. They will not come in with the historical baggage.
  • And last - but most important - is to have a clear mission or objective to work towards. Knowing the mission helps give you the "o.k" to come up with something truly grand, as long as it fits within the mission parameters.

If you still find yourself struggling to create something that is truly a leap over what you had before - consider learning about the practices taught in the Innovation Engineering system of innovating.