Why Good Ideas Don’t Make It
and Bad Ideas Do
By Garrison Wynn
it that some of the best ideas are never considered and idiotic
concepts that we know will fail are? How did AT&T decide to focus
on the picture phone and sell off the rights to the cellular
telephone? Research clearly showed that the number-one reason
people placed a phone call instead of showing up in person was speed
and convenience. The number-two reason was they did not want to be
face-to-face with the person they were calling. If you are at home
on the phone in your underwear, do you really want people to see
you? (Okay, some of you do, and you know who you are, but let’s
move on.) Why did it take so long to get squeeze-bottle ketchup?
Squeeze-bottle mustard was on the market 20 years earlier! Were
there really people who believed that ketchup in a glass bottle was
sacred and could never sink to the lows of seemingly misguided
issue is that some of us are just much better at getting people to
agree with us than others. It’s why it took so long for people to
wear seat belts and yet pet rocks sold instantly. A recent interview
of the top 1% of the most persuasive people in our research of 5000
top performers showed some interesting results about getting people
to see things your way, regardless of how ineffective your ideas may
Make sure the influential people with the biggest mouths are on
your side up front. You have people in every organization
who have the ear of the masses and can’t shut up (and they never
will) Get them behind your idea by showing them how good they
will look to others if they support your agenda. Having a lot of
people believe in what you do before you actually do it, gives
you a huge edge. It’s like discussing the details of a great
buffet to a hungry audience 10 minutes before lunchtime. You
pretty much had their attention before you started talking. I
don’t know about you, but all I ever wanted in life was an
Find out what people value most before you start talking.
People are much more likely to listen to your ideas if you can
prove you know what’s important to them first. Before your
unleash your genius make sure you get them talking about what’s
most important to them. A good question: “What, specifically,
does success look like to you?” What comes out of their mouth
can mean a whole lot more than what comes out of your mouth.
Make sure your ideas are very clear. . The reason USA Today
is the number-one newspaper is not because of its superior
journalistic viewpoints; no, it’s just written on a 6th grade
level. If you can’t understand USA today, you may be too dumb to
need news! It does not matter how smart you are if no one knows
what you’re talking about. You may need to have your top expert
teach their concepts to your top presenter. A lot of great ideas
are not taken seriously because people don’t want to admit they
don’t get it. Also make sure your intelligence is working for
you, not against you. A high IQ can be frustrating when you
encounter people who can’t figure things out the same way as
you. Don’t be afraid to dumb things down a bit to have greater
influence. By trying to show how smart you are, you run the risk
of being labeled a poor communicator.
Have a highly repeatable message. Some concepts have a lot
of momentum because they easily transfer from person to person.
It is considered by many to be the foundation of influence. Any
idea that is easy to spread will have a better shot at being
supported as it makes its way through an organization. The key
is to have an element of bad news surrounding your message. You
may have noticed, “Good news does not sell newspapers.” If you
turned on your television, and the lead story was “life is great
and nothing bad happened in the world today” you would not watch
the rest of the news. But if the headline was “Headless Body
found in Topless Bar” you would sit down, grab the remote and
turn up the volume.
Impact favors catchy language over concept. The world is
full of great ideas, concepts and outlines. But how well
something is worded is directly proportionate to how much people
respond to it. So spending a lot of time getting the right words
in the most effective sequence is extraordinarily valuable.
Selling life insurance is much easier because we don’t call it
what is really is “death insurance”. Sometimes the masses want
the ugly truth, though they will rarely write you a check for
Make sure you can explain the basic value in about 20 seconds.
People buy into what they can understand quickly. “The longer it
takes you to explain value, the more people think you don’t have
any.” Show how it will make the person(s) you are talking with
look good personally. What’s in it for them?
Show the similarities first and differences second. The main
reason people don’t want to change is that nobody wants to be a
“senior beginner.” When things change, people are afraid their
expertise will have less value—they may not be as important to
the organization as they used to be. The goal for you is to show
how the new way is similar to the old way first, and then
highlight why the new way feels more valuable.
research showed that ideas have to be more than great. They have to
get supported by humans as they make their way toward
implementation. Some pretty weak agendas get moved forward because
they are presented 10 times better than an agenda that was …well …
10 times better.
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