Thinking Managers

Edward de Bono of suggests that organisations would benefit from the appointment of a New Ideas Officer.

Improving on Tired Ideas for Business Development

Good ideas exist, as well as bad ones. But of course a whole spectrum exists in between. There are plenty of ideas which are good, but that alone does not mean that they are suitable for the purpose of business development.

Sometimes we have to improve on good ideas to make them even better. But if we want to do this, we must avoid the human instinct to demonstrate how clever we are by attacking the idea, as that simply results in burying the idea, not building on it.  Unfortunately, in business, this tendency means that we often end up with ideas that are merely adequate, as they can’t be shown to be wrong.

There is an absence of natural greed for a better idea in the practical world of business. Entrepreneurs sometimes have this kind of greed when starting up a new business. But once their business is up and running, that greed is replaced by practical considerations rather than business development. Dreams can be greedy, but reality is often far lazier.

Usually, in order for a new idea to be taken up, the benefits have to be spelt out very clearly. The fact that the idea is ‘new’ is not sufficient in itself. There might be an ego value in novelty for the creator of the idea, but by itself, novelty has no user value. The focus should always be on the potential benefits of the newer idea.

Some executives involved in business development are reluctant to try out a new idea because, if the idea fails, it is considered as their failure. A marketing manager might dismiss a new advertising campaign because the risk is too high. The risk itself might not be high, but there are dire consequences to failure.

It could be that companies need a ‘New Ideas Officer’, whose job it is to encourage, develop and protect new ideas. Their job would be to play ‘Devil’s Angel’. In other words, to always see the glass as half full rather than half empty.  By taking responsibility for developing ideas, they would also act as a buffer to protect other employees from the fear of having their ideas dismissed or ridiculed.

About the author
Edward de Bono is the world's leading authority in the field of creative thinking and the teaching of thinking as a skill.