Lukáš Linhart

Being Idea Killer

written by Almad

Trade-off: exploring possibilities vs. focusing on getting current objective done.

Gist is best captured by Tim Fishburn's Chief Idea Killer cartoon that resonates: I have a lot of awesome ideas, but nobody listens to me, especially the people above me. Somehow, I found myself on the other side.

There are two extremes, both of them hurtful: either you stay too focused on your current goal without questioning if it still makes sense to go into that direction, or you are changing your direction every other day and nothing actually gets "done done". In this case, analysis paralysis is your friend as well, together with "we don't have enough data to decide".

In order to be successful, generating ides should have two phases: analysis/divergence (exploring possibilities and looking at possible solutions, creatively looking for new approaches) and synthesis/convergence (crafting a plan from explored possibilities and agreeing on a plan). The key is to know in which phase the particular project or idea is and to communicate it properly.

The last part is the common problem: if convergence is done in different group than people actually executing the plan (or doing the convergence), they may easily feel missed out.

There is another word for "no" focus. It is the hardest currency available. Everybody begs you for one and giving it inevitably limits what you can do with the rest.

Make it shorter

I found the right balance in having explicit stages, keeping iterations short and insisting on done state. I found most people tend to use divergence state of the next project as a form of procrastination from the current one and then using the urgency of the upcoming project to finally bury the unpopular tasks.

Not adding more tasks to the queue helps to push yourself.

Having focus cycle gives you room to say "no", and to finish.

Keeping it short means everyone can wait with their value proposals and don't try to disturb the focus.

But when you are in, the ship is sailing. Help it reach the haven quicker, and let's talk about the next stop there.

Published on 2016-03-01