Everything New is a Swimming Pool

PoolYesterday, I was having one of my usual days. Trying to convince people that we need to do something different and getting blocked at every turn.

It’s incredible that no matter how good the idea, it will always be met with a challenge. It got me thinking…Are there any ideas that are SO good, that they are just signed off on and moved ahead?

Now, over the last few days I have been to a few kids parties in the hot sun and so swimming was on my mind, so what about pools? I imagined sitting down with my wife to talk about getting a pool and figured the conversation might go something like this:

Me: “Hey, why don’t we get a pool?”

Wife: “That sounds like fun, the kids love to swim”

Me: “Awesome…”

Wife: “But then again, people say that pools are a lot of work”

Me: “In what way?”

Wife: “Well, don’t we have to clean them all the time?”

Me: “Sure, but I think they have automatic cleaners now.”

Wife: “Y’know my sister says her utility bill is at least $100 more a month now with her pool”…”and our kids are not that old, so maybe we should wait, we want them water safe.”…”and then with their friends, I certainly would not want a danger for them.”

Me: “We could get a fence.”

Wife: “But then that is ugly and plus it costs more.  Why don’t we just use the community pool?”

Me: “But that’s not as nice as having our own, and they don’t have a cool waterfall and the underwater bar we always dreamed of…”

Wife: “I know you want to do this, but its expensive, and takes up a big part of our yard so now the kids can’t run on the grass, plus we don’t really need it and it won’t even improve resale that much.”

Me: “I guess you’re right. Let’s just leave things as they are.”

You can take this conversation and apply it to any innovation you try to drive behind the firewall. The conversation ALWAYS becomes about the risks, challenges, costs, and downsides. Very rarely do people focus on the positive benefits, no matter how numerous.

This is the pain of innovation. A pain not felt nearly as acutely in the consumer world. That world has a sense of freedom and passion not oft found behind corporate walls.

Disclaimer: My wife is not negative.  this was a fictional account of a wife who is not as loving and understanding as my own.”

AboutPaul

a.k.a.:ppedrazzi

12 comments

  1. Just like Benjamin Franklin once replied while defending his invention “what’s the use of a new born baby?”, every new idea when born need to be nurtured and given time to grow up, because as they say ‘an idea can change the world’ !!

  2. Just like Benjamin Franklin once replied while defending his invention “what’s the use of a new born baby?”, every new idea when born need to be nurtured and given time to grow up, because as they say ‘an idea can change the world’ !!

  3. Hi Paul. I think there are thousands of failed products and companies that would contend with your contention that “.. pain not felt nearly as acutely in the consumer world”.

    In fact I’d say you have it the wrong way around. What’s the worst that can happen if an internal innovation doesn’t take off? Get re-assigned to a “boring” job? Quit in disgust?

    However, launch a new product or business into the consumer space? You may be putting everything on the line, and everyone associated will feel some very real pain if you fail.

    But that’s a digression. I think the real point is to make a disctinction between simply “idea people” and (usually) groups that are recognised “innovators”. Innovators by definition have the special skills/influence/connections to “get things done”. If they didn’t, it wouldn’t be “innovation”.

    When I read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point I was immediately drawn to contextualise the message in terms of driving change in at work. Definitely worth a read from that perspective, particularly some of the ideas on how major change usually rests on three distinct roles: the maven (person with the ideas/expertise); a connector (with the relationships/networks); and the salesman (the influencer/closer/dealmaker).

  4. Hi Paul. I think there are thousands of failed products and companies that would contend with your contention that “.. pain not felt nearly as acutely in the consumer world”.

    In fact I’d say you have it the wrong way around. What’s the worst that can happen if an internal innovation doesn’t take off? Get re-assigned to a “boring” job? Quit in disgust?

    However, launch a new product or business into the consumer space? You may be putting everything on the line, and everyone associated will feel some very real pain if you fail.

    But that’s a digression. I think the real point is to make a disctinction between simply “idea people” and (usually) groups that are recognised “innovators”. Innovators by definition have the special skills/influence/connections to “get things done”. If they didn’t, it wouldn’t be “innovation”.

    When I read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point I was immediately drawn to contextualise the message in terms of driving change in at work. Definitely worth a read from that perspective, particularly some of the ideas on how major change usually rests on three distinct roles: the maven (person with the ideas/expertise); a connector (with the relationships/networks); and the salesman (the influencer/closer/dealmaker).

  5. In some ways, it is a good thing that ideas get blocked at every turn. It weeds out all but the most passionate inventors and thinkers, people who won’t take no for an answer. It forces them to think it out more thoroughly, and to come up with answers for every objection. Some good ideas die before getting a good hearing, but it is also a good way to kill bad ideas. But when the obstacles get too big or too artificial, sometimes you have to take your good idea someplace else.

  6. In some ways, it is a good thing that ideas get blocked at every turn. It weeds out all but the most passionate inventors and thinkers, people who won’t take no for an answer. It forces them to think it out more thoroughly, and to come up with answers for every objection. Some good ideas die before getting a good hearing, but it is also a good way to kill bad ideas. But when the obstacles get too big or too artificial, sometimes you have to take your good idea someplace else.

  7. Paul – On the topic of “painful innovation” at startups. My point was there is more pain at inception of ideas within established organizations vs start-ups. Your point is there is more pain with the consequence of a failed one at a start-up, which is obviously correct.

    John – Yep. That’s a good perspective. Challenges to ideas to help ideas become better and organizations separate the signal from the noise. I guess it could be seen as a survival mechanism. A friend of mine talks about the “anti-change antibodies”. They roam the virtual halls and destroy new ideas. The corporate immune system.

    Good comments, thanks!

  8. Paul – On the topic of “painful innovation” at startups. My point was there is more pain at inception of ideas within established organizations vs start-ups. Your point is there is more pain with the consequence of a failed one at a start-up, which is obviously correct.

    John – Yep. That’s a good perspective. Challenges to ideas to help ideas become better and organizations separate the signal from the noise. I guess it could be seen as a survival mechanism. A friend of mine talks about the “anti-change antibodies”. They roam the virtual halls and destroy new ideas. The corporate immune system.

    Good comments, thanks!

  9. The point seems to be that corporations (accidentally?) stifle innovation by over-applying process and politics, which makes everyone more wary and less willing to take risks. I touched on this a bit in my posts on power and innovation.

  10. The point seems to be that corporations (accidentally?) stifle innovation by over-applying process and politics, which makes everyone more wary and less willing to take risks. I touched on this a bit in my posts on power and innovation.

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