Time and time again I hear people in business say things like, “No one will want ________,” “Nobody cares about ________,” or “People will never use ________.” Why won’t your customers want, care, or use a certain product, idea, or widget? Have you so little faith in your brand, or in your early adopters, that you would ignore innovation? Let’s hope not, cause a business that’s not progressing is a business that’s dying… there’s no in between. Not all ideas are created equal, and we get that. Some ideas flat out suck, but they still need to be expressed and need to be heard just as much as the good ideas. However, the worst thing you can do as the leader of a growing business is assume that your customers will “never” jump on board with a new idea. This attitude of negative assumption will ultimately kill innovation in your business. When innovation dies, so does the business… slowly… but it inevitably dies.
Alright, so the movie “Jobs” wasn’t all that good. However, there’s a great quote from the movie and from the character of Steve Jobs (Ashton Kutcher) that epitomizes the success of Apple. The quote is in response to negative assumption of consumer behavior, and it’s this, “how does somebody know what they want if they haven’t even seen it?” When brainstorming and evaluating new ideas (no matter how large or how small) it’s up to the leader to give the consumer more credit, and view the positives of each idea. This makes evaluating the risk/reward equation far easier than if you assume “no one will buy into ________.” Next time you’re faced with a new idea from a team member, begin evaluating how much failure would hurt your business, rather than assuming how your customers will react to the idea. It’s not the fear of the failure that’s motivating your decision, it’s whether or not you can take the hit. If you can afford to take the hit, start evaluating how the idea will work, then how to make the idea a successful reality. Why? 9 times out of 10 you will wrongly predict how people will feel. How many times have you assumed your spouse would dislike an idea only to end up completely surprised by their approval of it? Happens all the time! The difference is, that’s just one person (one that you know better than anyone else), imagine assuming how hundreds, thousands, or millions of people will feel. You can’t. So live in the positive.
Ideas move people. Not only the good ideas, but sometimes the new ones. Think about how many people love Reality TV. How many of those shows do you hear about and say to yourself, “Who came up with such an awful show concept?” Yet, people watch. They don’t watch the show because it’s a great idea, they watch the show because it’s a new idea, or a different idea. “We are drawn to leaders and to their ideas, and we can’t resist the rush of belonging and the thrill of the new […] And if you give us tools and make it easy, we’ll keep joining.” – Seth Godin, Tribes.
- Live in the Future. The positive future.
- Embrace new and different ideas.
- Assume the best of your consumers.
- Coach your team to follow suit.