May 2012

Get Quality Ideas From a Quantity Of Options

2012-05-14T08:23:06-04:00 Categories: SandBlog, solve, think|Tags: , , , , |

You’re in your neighborhood bookstore looking for a title about “social media.” Do you immediately buy the first book you see, on the first shelf of the business section? Probably not.

You visit a new restaurant for a tasty dinner, do you only read the top menu item and order it – ignoring the rest of the menu? I don’t believe you would.

In both situations, before making a decision, you would first review all your options. You’d scan each of the books in the marketing section. You would read the entire menu. Then, from that full selection of offerings, make the best choice.

We appreciate and expect variety and choice with these decisions, but often when making bigger, more financially critical decisions at work… we deny ourselves options. We thwart our capacity to be innovative.

In the name of efficiency, when faced with problems or challenges at work, we go forward with the first workable option we can think of. Business pressure – to get things done quickly and efficiently – causes us to miss options. This can cause us to miss the best solution.

One Item – If you go with the first, only idea you have, that isn’t decision-making. That’s a last resort. Decisions require choosing from a pool of options.

Two Items – Selecting among two alternative ideas isn’t a decision either — it is only choosing this or don’t do this.

Decisions improve in proportion to the number of interesting, attractive, and doable alternatives you have to consider.

We must pile-up a list of unusable ideas. The more ideas you think up, the more likely you are to arrive at one that is brilliant and remarkable.

Even if you think you’ve happened upon the best idea right from the start, you should think up a few more. Picking one idea from a pool of one isn’t a choice. Don’t stop at the first one that seems to fit. Keep thinking. Come up with at least two more ideas for a total of three to choose from.

If that first idea is the one you go with, you can have the confidence that you’ve made a choice. That you weren’t just forced into using the first idea that popped into you mind.

Choice and options, when it comes to important decisions, isn’t a luxury, but a requirement. The next time you or your team start moving with the first idea that pops into mind, entertain other options. You deserve the right to decide, not simply be forced with an approach due to haste. Brainstorm a few more workable ideas. You deserve choices. Remarkable ideas spring from choices.

April 2012

Hitting Your Innovation Target With A Diagram

2015-01-02T17:15:58-04:00 Categories: SandBlog, solve|Tags: , , |

Compromise gets a bad rap in the United States. Departing with anything less than the biggest, the best, and the most reflects weakness.

Yet, since most of us work in an environment where different people come from different backgrounds with differing approaches on how to reach a similar goal – compromise is a reality.

There are times when you don’t need to win, but you do need diplomacy. You need “best possible.” To strike a balance. A happy medium. This situation calls for a Target Diagram!

This graph is great for plotting something that falls within a realistic range of choices … The prime space between NONE and ALL. It is what you use when you need the right mix.


It is different from a Quadrant Diagram or “2×2” as it is sometimes called… The Quadrant Diagram categorizes the lows and highs of something. The quadrant is great when you’re pushing for the extreme. To maximize.


This is not that.

It is almost like a Venn diagram—where the two or three circles meet representing the perfect blend.

venn_diagramBut, it isn’t that either.

The target diagram is a great way to gauge you’re within established boundaries. Not too high or too low. The business equivalent of what Goldilocks was after at the Bear’s house—”just right.”

To try it, put your two sets of opposing forces at either end of the axes. In my example, I’m balancing website design between what we really want, and what we need to do to meet logistical needs. The goal is to find ideas that comes close to the middle of the target.

Next time your ideas need diplomacy, try graphing them on a target diagram.

This article was originally published on the Marketing Prof’s DailyFix website.