Successfully Fend Off Idea Attackers
"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance."
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, 2007
Let's face it. Many people are initially dismissive, skeptical and apprehensive when exposed to new ideas. In hindsight, some pretty smart people are simply proven to be dead wrong about certain ones (see above quote). While some of us are willing to be open minded and allow fledgling innovation opportunities to breathe, many others will attack and seek to suffocate them by raising doubt and skepticism among stakeholders. As idea champions, it is wise where possible, for us to pre-empt these likely attacks.
For example, last week, I read an article about Xeros Cleaning (www.xeroscleaning.com), a new laundering process that utilizes small, recyclable plastic beads in place of detergent. It uses only a very small amount of water. It is already being used in some commercial settings.
Pretty cool, right? Well, in reading the message board beneath the article, challenges quickly emerged: it probably wouldn't work as well, it would probably wear out clothes faster, bet it's tough to get little beads out of clothes, and so forth. Here's one such posting:
Importantly, most of the questions/comments raised were perfectly legitimate concerns...that weren't preemptively addressed in the product description.
The lesson for any would-be innovation champions who identify and characterize solution options for internal customers should be obvious. Pre-emptive communications that address obvious questions that could potentially represent "idea killers" is important for building interest in otherwise viable solutions. I'm not suggesting that we speak to every conceivable question or challenge that could possibly be raised. However, if we preemptively avoid anticipatable attacks where we can, we can help protect our ideas to enable their progression through the corporate gauntlet.