Mar
18

Idea Cancer: The Danger of Good Ideas (Growing Out of Control)

By

Nussbaum on Design (BusinessWeek) has a though-provoking column that mentions several innovation principles from designer Diego Rodriquez. One of these is “Killing good ideas is a good idea.” That’s the kind of counter-intuitive blasphemy that merits reflection. Of course, developing good ideas is essential, but without the killing phase, good ideas can lead to “idea cancer.” Ideas from late-stage idea cancer strangle many organizations and many minds–when ideas grow without control, unregulated and unchecked by proper objectives and reality. Ideas can metastasize and choke the arteries of business, cloud the mind, and weaken all life support systems in the end, unless they are regulated and killed at the appropriate time. So many great failures begin with good ideas, and lots of them.

Innovation is often more about execution and planning than idea generation. A weak idea, implemented ITERATIVELY with the right talent, can be adjusted based on feedback from the system (e.g., the market) and become successful. Even mediocre ideas can beat good ideas if there are great skills, good leaders, and good execution. But add an occasional great idea to the mix and the success can be remarkable, if the dream isn’t cluttered with lots of distracting good ideas along the way.

Innovation requires discipline. One has to focus and learn iteratively in the process, and not let unrestrained good ideas shut down your innovation engines with “idea cancer.”

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