New ideas are important. New ideas are the best test of your company's readiness for Internet marketing. Internet marketing requires a constant stream of new ideas. You have to have more new ideas before lunch than many companies have all year to survive in the frothy red ocean waters of most Internet marketing. The web shares everything instantly.
As a Director of Ecommere I knew we had a winning idea if competitors copied it before 24 hours. If they held their powder and didn't copy we were on our own, in uncharted waters. Uncharted waters was good too, but our strike rate out there, out in uncharted waters, was less. Return from uncharted waters was greater since we had the idea to ourselves for longer.
If you don't work in Internet marketing you may think I am making this up, the quick copy, the betterment of your ideas almost instantly. A quick story might help you trust me :). Once my team misspelled the name of a popular product. The name was recognizable but not exact. "Should we delete," they asked. I checked our ratings and we were #1 for the incorrect spelling. No, I decided let it ride and redirect our internal search so when someone types it right on the site they end up on the page they want. We also added a little copy about our inability to spell.
A few weeks later we saw our first competitor. This is akin to seeing a shark's fin sticking up out of the ocean and circling slowly. The competitor created a new product page with our incorrectly spelled name. Within a year we had lost the #1 listing on a product we created. "Now you can change it back," I told my team. If competitors will copy your site's bad spelling they will copy anything.
Why New Ideas DieIndifference and fear are sure new idea killers. Even innovative companies are replete with indifference and fear, fear and indifference. At some age, probably in high school, we decide "new" isn't cool. We want to fit in, to join, to belong. Conformity seems a sure way to fit in, to be part of the "right" group.
One of my favorite theories is high school never really ends. We get older but the primal dance of high school continues to wobble throughout our lives. One left over response is to greet The New with a desire to pack up in opposition. Want to create strange bedfellows in a meeting, alliances between normally warring factions, suggest a new idea and watch pack mentality take over often tearing the new to shreds before it can take a first breath.
Sometimes such a reaction can be helpful since anything that unites warring groups can be helpful, but, on the whole, such immediate, forceful and negative reactions indicate an organizational learning problem, a dyslexia of the spirit. Everything is backwards in this collective dyslexia. Rejection is immediate and fatal acceptance reserved for the pack's rejection and so self reinforcing.
The skill your company learns is how to reject, dismantle and eliminate. The problem is the market for rejection is full, has been full and will always be full. The market favors the few organizations who learn to build, implement, execute and accept. Easy to find examples such as Ideo, Facebook, Google and even Twitter is headed toward turning a profit. The ice cutting bow of these ships are built to create. They dismantle, destroy and blow up stuff too, but they destroy their own previously new and good ideas with newer and better ideas.
Tearing apart your own castles keeps a company mobile, agile and in fighting trim. The key muscle memory is NOT building or tearing down but a combination of both. Internet marketing requires a kind of brutal beauty, a wrecking ball to the cherished NOW in favor of some undetermined FUTURE.
How To Rescue New Ideas: Initial ReactionThe most vulnerable time of a new idea's life is its first moments. Reacting to new ideas with anything other than over-the-top enthusiasm and glee assigns them to the dustbin reinforcing the "kill the invader" mentality. Many companies say create a process, submit the idea into the process and then we will welcome "The New".
I'm not a fan of such an organized approach since "submit your idea here" approaches are just formal statements of what most companies do already - work hard to kill new ideas. The new doesn't happen on schedule or with any predictable routine. The new is often spontaneous, strange and connected by the smallest thread.
The problem is most new ideas SHOULD DIE. How they die is the issue. New ideas need to pass away after consideration, reflection and thought. People who bring new ideas up need to feel rewarded, heard and supported even if their idea doesn't make it all the way to execution. The process must be prized even if most of its work product ends up on the dustbin.
How To Rescue New Ideas: Execute Bad IdeasIn a time of Internet marketing relativity who knows what a good idea or a bad idea really is anymore? Some things we think are goofystupid become beloved and other ideas we are sure will hit lay flat from lack of care. Sometimes go ahead and act on an idea you think is not the best just because you can.
This "execute bad ideas" tip speaks to the most important thing we create - an engine capable of developing new ideas all the way to execution. The idea of the moment is less important than the engine's ability to create The New. If your new idea engine doesn't have consistent rhythm you may need to execute a bad idea. Keeping your new idea engine capable and tuned is more important than any damage from implementing a bad idea. If, after a few days of web metrics, the idea was as bad as you thought it is easy to roll away from it (never remove anything from Google but orphaning something you don't want by removing the juice of links and/or admitting you made a mistake but are doing something different now are all ways to "decay" out under performing content.
We Internet marketers are in the sand castle not Sistine Chapel business. The web's natural ebb and tide means new is better than old, consistent better than inconsistent and there is no way to have too much content. These network content marketing truths mean putting up the occasional bad idea is cost of poke, the table stakes of playing in the Internet marketing card game.
How To Rescue New Ideas: Peer ReviewI work on being nonjudgmental, but who are we kidding, those muscle die hard. We judge things, according to Malcolm Gladwell, in a blink. I'm also in management so any judgement by me or my peers is twice as damaging to new ideas. The best way to protect the incubation stage of new ideas is to convene regular (monthly or weekly or quarterly) peer review groups. Charge the group with promoting one idea per some time period (week, month or quarter depending on your new idea flow). Appoint a champion to speak for the idea that did was not in on the invention.
Charge the peer group with thinking about all the details of the ideas execution including startup costs, hard and soft returns (money and benefits to branding) and ask for a written one page summary. The champion should be willing to lead the project to implementation.
The peer review process has two goals - bubble up great ideas and help everyone in the company think about profit and loss, branding and the macro implications of business ideas taken all the way through to execution. The review with the peer champion is NOT to accept or reject the idea, but to tighten up the process of idea discovery. Once ideas have been so tuned they should be executed in some fashion. If the ideas are broad they can be narrowed to MVP (minimal viable product) and see if how the market reacts. If they are narrow and self sufficient launch them and give kudos to the team and idea creators.
Try to keep your praise to teaching ratio higher on the praise side by at least 10% and charge the peer group with following the idea and making tuning or tweaking recommendations. Peer review is a cheap way to get an entire company to understand markets, marketing and P&Ls.
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