Business development and improving on tired ideas

Jul 14 2008 by Edward de Bono Print This Article

There are many good ideas out there as well as many bad ones Ė with a whole spectrum in between. There are a great many ideas which might be good, but some are far better than others when it comes to business development.

Sometimes we have to move on from good ideas to find even better ideas. However, to do this, it is not effective to attack the existing idea and try to show it to be bad, because this is not the case. Because of this, our thinking is too often stuck with adequate ideas because they cannot be shown to be wrong.

There is no natural greed for a better idea in the practical world of business. An entrepreneur might have this kind of greed when starting up a new business. However, once the firm is up and running, that greed is replaced by practical considerations rather than business development. While dreams are greedy, reality is far lazier.

The potential benefits have to be very clearly spelt out in order for a new idea to be taken up. It is never sufficient to say the idea is 'new'. Novelty might have an ego value for the creator of the idea, but by itself novelty does not have a user value. The potential benefits of the newer idea are where the focus should always be.

There are differences between 'operational value' and 'benefit value'. Any idea requires both. It has to be possible to implement the idea. The idea has to offer benefits to the consumer and to the operator of the idea.

If an idea has been in use a long time then it proves it has 'operational value'. But it does not prove that the 'benefit value' is big. The benefit value is certainly adequate, or the idea would have been discontinued. However, the new idea might offer even greater benefit value.

A new vocabulary for dealing with ideas is needed.

Ideas which are adequate but tired need to be labelled.

We also need to label new ideas that are different but promise limited value.

New ideas that carry both a high risk and high reward need to be labelled.

We also need to label ideas which are promising but do not offer large benefits.

Many executives involved in business development show a reluctance to try out a new idea because, if the idea fails, that is seen as their failure. It is like a marketing manager who dismisses a new advertising campaign because the risk is too high. The risk itself might not be high, but the consequences of a failure are dire.

Perhaps companies need a 'new ideas officer', who is there to encourage, develop and protect the new idea. If the idea does not work, then the officer must take the blame. However, there will be an understanding that some ideas will fail. Therefore, an idea failure for the officer is not nearly as serious as it would be for other executives.

Many managers are reluctant to try out new ideas around business development because, if an idea fails, it is seen as their failure. So perhaps companies need a 'new ideas officer', who is there to encourage, develop and protect new thinking.

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About The Author

Edward de Bono
Edward de Bono

Edward de Bono (1933-2021) was a leading authority in the field of creative thinking. Over 35 years after the publication of his first book, "The Mechanism of Mind", the basic principles he outlined are now mainstream thinking in the mathematics of self-organising systems and in the design of neuro-computers. His many subsequent books have been translated into 26 languages.