“We never see any good ideas,” lamented a senior executive. “People bring us ideas. But they just don’t have any . . . magic.”
At first, I found the comment surprising. I had just begun to get to know the company, and it seemed to me to be brimming with innovation energy, particularly among young employees who would regularly throw out creative “What if’s” during casual conversations.
A month later, it was clear that the problem — as is almost always the case — wasn’t a lack of raw ideas. Instead, there was a problem with the process that an idea generator had to go through before they stood in front of senior leadership. The company, it turned out, had a deep case of iteration-itis.
You see, before anything made it onto the agenda of the top management’s biweekly meeting, it was vetted. And screened. And debated. And re-jiggered. The idea generator had to show the idea to their line manager. To key functional representatives. To key staff members of senior leaders. Maybe even to one or two members of leadership. Every person who saw the idea would express a clear point of view, and the poor idea generator had to figure out how to integrate seemingly contradictory feedback.
Read more… There are some parallels with designing products too 🙂