Ready, Set, No!

What’s the right timing for innovation?

I’m not talking about developing ideas and getting to market.

I’m talking about thinking something through, making a decision, and if it’s not meant to be moving on to the next thing.

Lots of energy is spent about getting ideas to market faster. But I think we should pay more attention to the time lines for killing ideas that just aren’t going to make it.

Too often we let ideas linger. Either through indecision, inertia, or sometimes just the lack of courage to take action.

What’s the harm? Well, the problem is that most of us has limited creative and literal resources. So if we spend time on dead-ends, it may be keeping us from applying energy to other ideas.

Recently I met with the guys from Ozo Labs and they were very upfront about some mistakes and lessons they’ve learned in this area. They’ve spent too much time lingering in the zone of “going nowhere”.

So now they either do one of two things: 1) set a finite limit on the exploration of any one idea (ex. 3 months) or 2) give the idea to someone out side of the core group to explore. That way they have a fresh set of ideas looking at the opportunity, and the core group is freed up to move onto something else.

Last month I was on a panel with a terrific woman from Hasbro who is in charge of consumer insights. Given the nature of the toy business, they are coming out with 1,000’s of new SKU’s every year. They can’t afford to waste any time. So they’ve gotten really good at saying no …definitively – and early on.

Rather than quash innovation, this actually helps encourage it. It keeps the passion and energy level high instead of letting it get wasted on ideas that don’t have a real chance.

Are you spending too much time kicking the same tired ideas around? It may be keeping you from uncovering some better ideas. Next time, try setting a time limit on idea exploration. It might actually help you speed things up.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

Do you have the discipline to move on quickly from dead-end ideas?

4 thoughts on “Ready, Set, No!

  1. Great post, Julie…

    So much to do and so little time. I often wrestle with the best project to run with and the ones to let go of. I will say that letting go is easier for me but my "twist" is having the fortitude to stick with the good ones and bringing them to fruition.

    Getting a good idea from thought to implementation can be the death of a good idea. I learned this last year when I did a website rebuild. So many times, I had my head in my hands wondering if I could get through it. My walls were plastered with the site flow and my eyes were bugging out on every detail and although I am working on some small tweaks now, the fortitude to get through the project prevailed with disipline, structure, lots of hours and coffee.

    I would guess that so many ideas waste away because they lack the energy behind them that it takes to get them completed. I could not imagine getting half way through one and realizing that it was a bad idea from the start!

  2. Great post.

    I do like the idea of setting a time limit on idea development and then opening it up to other colleagues. Sometimes ownership of the idea really blocks the development as well.

    This new site,, poses an interesting process for innovation. It is by committe – people pay to post their ideas. Then site viewers select amongst the submitted ideas. Then the process of naming, product development, consumer research, gets opened to the community. It is neat.

  3. Thanks Sara. You inspired me to check Quirky out. I didn't know about it. And to write today's post. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks "All Marblehead". I think you are right. The hardest part is seeing it through. Sometimes I think it takes a special gene for that. Some of us are born with it, and others really have to work it. From the sounds of it, you stuck with it and made it to the other side. Well done and thanks for sharing.

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