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What to do with Other’s Great Ideas

Has a coworker, your boss, or an influencer approached you with a “great” idea that will require a large amount of personal time and energy and you don’t see the point?  Is your first reaction to tell them where to stick it?  Maybe you’re in a work situation where you have no choice to follow through on its execution.  The impact of spending time and energy on the wrong tasks diverts your time away from your most important tasks.  In rare cases, it can be harmful to your career or your business.
Stick It

Find out how to handle this situation.

The Do and Don’ts for Handling Other’s Great Ideas

Don’t react negatively or disagree. You do not know it is a bad idea until you determine the context or understand how it aligns with the overall purpose and vision. A quick negative reaction models behavior similar to what upset you in the first place: an assumption that the idea owner came to this idea hastily. Instead follow the 10-second rule.

Do draw out the outcome or purpose. I am reminded of a proverb that states:

A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, But a man of understanding draws it out.  (Proverbs 20:5)

Ask the idea owner clarifying questions. Try to identify if this great idea ties back to a larger purpose and vision. Determine if the idea is the result of a planning session that included brainstorming and organization of ideas.  Seek to understand the motive behind the idea.

Do redirect the idea if necessary. Some ideas are the result of what David Allen refers to in Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity as the natural planning model. The natural planning model can be summarized in five steps:

  1. Defining purpose and principles (why)
  2. Outcome visioning (what)
  3. Brainstorming (how)
  4. Organizing (put it together)
  5. Identifying next actions (go)

However, other ideas follow the unnatural planning model. The great idea existed before the purpose was clear, the vision was well defined, and relevant data had been collected. The evaluation of the idea as “great” cannot be trusted. If that is the case, then you need to get back to a top-down focus as soon as possible and ask the big question, “What are we really trying to do here, anyway?” If the idea is not great, you will ask that question — eventually.

Do gain supporters and counsel. If you are redirecting the idea, you may need the help of others to influence the idea owner depending on the circumstance.  Also, you should include others during the brainstorming session so you can gain additional perspectives and ensure you are thinking correctly.

How do you handle other’s great ideas?  Leave a comment below.

In Productivity
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