Change / transformation Leadership

Don’t let your great ideas die in the shower

You’re not innovating yet? What the hell’s the matter with you?

Innovation is the buzz word du jour. All of the so-called “thought leaders” tell us we have to do it — that our very future depends on it.

But none of them have told us how to do it.

Until now.

Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph closed the 2016 edition of DigitalNow with some encouraging words: Innovation isn’t about huge ideas that change the world. It’s simply about easing pain.

Ask yourself: What problems do you face? If you can identify your problems, you’re on the road to finding solutions — to innovating, in other words.

And as you look for those pain points, Randolph said, “don’t think big. Focus on the things you know.” What are the little things that are getting in your way? Fixing them is innovation.

Want to know what a pain point looks like? Randolph suggests looking at a can of paint. You need a screwdriver to open it, a stick to stir it, and a hammer to close it. It’s messy, it’s inconvenient, and nobody looks forward to using it. That’s a problem that desperately needs a solution.

Those are the types of problems you need to be identifying.

Here’s another great piece of advice from Randolph: Give yourself plenty of room to fail. Great ideas don’t start as great ideas. They start as bad ideas that are lovingly shaped into good ideas by really smart people.

“Success isn't about having good ideas,” Randolph said. “It's about having a system for trying lots of bad ideas. What eventually worked at Netflix bore very little resemblance to the original idea.”

He then channeled actor Mary Pickford, who said, ”This thing we call failure is not the falling down, but the staying down."

In other words: Get up. Take a risk. Embrace your ideas. Don’t let them die in the shower.

Dry off and do something with them.


William D. Sheridan