Is Your Best Talent Putting Out Fires vs Actively Accelerating A Strategic Project?

Where in your organization do you have your best people working on the worst problems versus your best people working on the biggest opportunities?

I find this question and concept completely fascinating. Do you ever feel like you have too few ideas for change and innovation – within your department, and/or in your organization at large?
One of the strategies is to actively talk about killing ideas, and killing ideas as fast as possible before they become too expensive. Ideas are one thing, but actually implementing ideas and executing on a plan to bring that idea to fruition, can become expensive.

Google uses this type of strategy, which I think is really good. They’re very open and up-front about killing ideas. They offer incentives for it. They want people to be weird, creative, and crazy with their ideas. Then, when they launch them, they want to kill them as soon as possible, so they don’t become expensive, and the only ones that survive are the really, really good ideas.

How many of you have had experiences where someone will come to you and say, “I have a really good idea”?

We’ve all probably had that. I just read recently that one of the ways to handle this is to use this strategy. You say, “Well, it’s good that you have a great idea. Bring me ten of your worst ideas related to that.” Then, the person goes away and comes back with ten of the worst ideas. This forces them to think about the issue and the original idea that they had, as well as to think about the ten ideas that were really poor. Then they come back and explain why this one is the best idea that they have.

On that theme, or tangentially related to that theme,

  • Where in your organization and on your team do you have your best talent?
  • Is your best talent working on the worst problems versus your best talent working on the biggest opportunities?
  • Where do you have your best talent putting out fires versus actually accelerating a strategic project?
  • Where in your organization do you have your A-caliber teammates being pulled in to solve problems?

You know the situation, when someone says, “You know what? I have a strategic initiative and I need to have two hours of that person’s time to actually move the ball down the field. Instead, I’m playing defense with that person.”

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