Last Updated Mar 16, 2010 1:34 PM EDT
"It's just hard to have robust answers about an unknown future state," writes innovation expert Scott Anthony on HBR.org. "Too frequently, taking the time to answer 'What about...' questions doesn't bring you any closer to achieving the goal of creating booming growth businesses."
Many of us already know this is true. It's the moment just after glorious inspiration strikes, when we start to ponder how we can sell it to the organization. We can largely predict who is going to raise questions in order to:
- Appear smart to the boss by offering a wide range of (largely unfounded) negative scenarios.
- Make sure they are on record as being skeptical about an idea should it go down in flames, but offering "supportive" vetting should it be a winner.
- Promote their own career and ideas by throwing water on the good work of others.
The solution? Replace rounds of what if with early and persistent market testing. Says Anthony:
"Substitute early action for never-ending analysis. Figure out the quickest, cheapest way to do something market-facing to start the iterative process that so frequently typifies innovation."Read his incredibly insightful post, How to Kill Innovation: Keep Asking Questions, for more details, then come back here and tell us how you deal with getting the "What about?" runaround.