How to Recognize the Silver Bullet Idea

You and your team are brainstorming to create something meaningfully unique for your customers.  You dig down deep to find the nerve to share your crazed idea with your team.  You suck in a breath and blurt out…

“My idea is (blah blah blah.)”

Then you wait for the following signs that yours was indeed “the big idea.” :

1.  The Mood Transforms.  Strangely, the wind inside your HVAC-pumped conference room starts to gently blow your hair back.  It smells of fresh cut grass and hope.


Outside the window you see the heavens open up. As you draw close to the window you can hear music in the distance  - a beautiful sweet melody and angels sing.


2.  Instant Guru Status.  You turn back into the room and notice your boss kneeling before you.  “I had no idea I was in the presence of greatness.”


A child comes out of nowhere and gives you a flower and a hug.


3.  Unanimous Respect from Peers.  As you lean to accept it, your co-workers break out in spontaneous applause.  You hear someone whisper, “I’ve always looked up to her.”


4.  Rocket up the Corporate Ladder.  Then your CEO bursts into the room and bestows upon you the Medal of Awesomeness.  “I’m looking to retire later this year and I’d like you to consider taking my place, that is if you don’t already have offers.”


Now that this picture is clearly painted in your mind, I want you to wake up from the daydream.  Because this will never happen.  EVER.

Innovation is not a pretty process. The coolest, most inventive, most meaningfully unique ideas are rarely recognizable.

But there are some reactions that happen more often when you share an idea that’s meaningfully unique.  It is not an exhaustive list, but these things do tend to happen often – particularly to those organizations new to innovation.

1. Disbelief. If you hear someone say, “We don’t do that.” “We’ve never done that.”  “We can’t do that!”  Those phrases mean you’re onto something unique.

2. Excitement.  The whole crowd won’t do this, but the 25% or so of people in your organization that are right brained will get all kinds of jazzed.

3. Silence.  Sometimes when groups hear an idea they’ve never considered, they don’t know what to do with it.  There’s no point of reference.  They don’t know where to start to talk about it.

4. Hesitation.  If you find yourself starting to hold your tongue, don’t.  You’re holding yourself back because of your own internal filter.  But even if your idea isn’t the “it”, it could very well be part of an inspiration that becomes the next big thing.

5. The “Well, Maybe…” Effect. Truly meaningfully unique ideas don’t take off instantly.  Research shows it can take 6 exposures to a really meaningfully unique idea for customers to hop on board.

And while it may help you feel more assured when you pitch an idea that “bad reactions” can mean good things, the real kicker is that there is no silver bullet idea.

The best ideas…the really, really great ones that live a long and healthy life …they won’t even be mentioned by anyone at the brainstorm.  Because the brainstorm is simply the seed of the idea.  It starts as one thing, but Fail Fast, Fail Cheap™ learning cycles let it bloom into the killer idea.  And some of the best ones, you never see them coming.

Announcing Innovation College 2014 dates

Back by popular demand, Innovation College dates have been set for the first half of 2014.   Dates are February 17 to 21, April 7 to 11 and June 2 to 6.  All Innovation College sessions are held at the Eureka! Ranch in Cincinnati, Ohio USA - home of Innovation Engineering.

Space is limited and is available on a first come, first serve basis.  50% of seats are already sold out at each session.  If you’d like to attend and become an Innovation Engineering Black Belt you can find out more information here.