Completely random stream of thoughts about the software business, from the perspective of an executive.
Monday, June 16, 2014
Bad idea filtering
Some teams seem to
consistently end up with better decisions.
downplaying individual contributions, I believe the way the team brings
ideas to life (or kills them) matters most. It isn't about starting with
more good ideas. It's about creating
a culture where good ideas are refined and bad ones are eliminated
quickly. In other words, they have a
better Bad Idea Filter, and the means to make mediocre ideas good (or great).
I've found two factors to influence idea quality: challenge and collaborate. They are blended; so much that my team
coined the phrase Challaboration.
practically everything.If you propose
an idea, you will defend it against technical, business, workflow, and visual
design critiques.One person is unable to consider a variety of
consequences, barriers, and alternative solutions.A team of people with varied experiences can. If the idea cannot be defended, then it doesn't survive - even if it is mine.
solution paths explored, the resulting decision is more resilient. It draws from improvements to address
previously unforeseen aspects of the problem, while minimizing weaknesses (or
at least making them known).
If challenging is
behavior, then collaboration is motivation. Team members receive and provide
critiques to the idea, not the person.
This isn't about scoring points; the desire must be to reach the best
decision the team can make. When I
challenge a design, I do so to make it excellent. I want the other person and
the team to be successful. Thus, I
The motivation for
the critique matters. If the motivation
is to increase quality results, better ideas emerge.
If the motivation is to show personal intelligence or to score points,
bad decisions slip through. Worse yet,
idea generation itself shuts down.
Your team gains confidence as they struggle with criticisms and pursue alternatives. When external groups and customers provide input, frequently it has been considered in depth. Your team is prepared to acknowledge inputs
and explain how they were considered, enhanced, or rejected. In turn, your team's confidence provides
confidence to the customer.
Challaboration is a
core value of our team. Each person has
a responsibility to assist in crafting a better solution. They also have an obligation to identify weak
ideas and prevent them from harming the team, product, and customers. These are key, since our team doesn't start
with more good ideas than most teams. It
just has a pretty darn good Bad Idea Filter.