Absurd Idea? Go For It
“That’s ridiculous. It’s not even worth considering for our company,” says your boss, after you mention an idea you came up with last night. Or maybe you’re the one to whom the idea is presented and you welcome it with an eye roll….
Of course, you might have only formulated the idea in your head and not voiced it, having seen the negative reaction to such ideas in the past. You and everyone else walking around with interesting ideas outside the norm have learned the lesson about suggesting something that challenges the perceived wisdom.
And if you are on the receiving end of an offbeat idea, you are accustomed to shutting it down or tuning it out—sending a clear message that no one should bother you with such nonsense.
In the last few days, Elon Musk announced that he was going to build a rocket that would allow travelers to get from anywhere to anywhere else on Earth in half an hour. To most, an absurd idea. And yet…
Many leaders and managers are so stuck in their bubble that ideas outside their perceived reality are considered absurd. But while they work hard to methodically improve their products or services step by step, others have taken an absurd idea, developed it into something new, and made a quantum leap past their competition.
Instead of immediately dismissing absurd ideas, honor them. Take the time to really think about them, evaluate them, discuss them. Who knows what discovery, game changing invention, or new way of operating lies within.
After thinking about them, some ideas will indeed wind up dismissed as impractical. But others will lead to actions that bring you better results. And every now and then one will turn out to truly be a total breakthrough that changes not only your company but your entire industry.
Best of all, by taking these ideas seriously you are encouraging your people to think big. To not be limited by the tried and true, “what has always worked for us”.
You release the creative juices of everyone by encouraging discussion of absurd ideas. Those weird ideas that come when in the shower, when jogging, as you fall asleep, or when you’re having dinner with a friend, contemplating, “what if…”.
After all, our everyday lives are centered around the answers to those once absurd questions. What if we created a communication system that allowed you to see and talk with someone without standing right next to them? What if that empty room in your house could be rented out regularly to visitors from around the world? What if during your evening commute, you could control everything inside your house, from raising the temperature to turning on the teapot?
Encourage absurd ideas. Listen carefully to them. Enjoy the breakthroughs to come.