17 Ways to Murder an Idea

It must be ten or fifteen years since I first came across 17 Ways to Murder an Idea.  I think that they were published by the Synectics Corporation in one of their promotional booklets of the time. Their excellence in the field of creativity and ideas generation is second to none. It fact at some point I’ll talk about synectics as a technique and how I’ve used it to great effect over the years but for now…….

Still as relevant today as they were all of those years ago.  Enjoy!

17 Ways to Murder an Idea

  1. See it coming and change the subject
  2. Ignore it. Dead silence intimidates all but the most enthusiastic
  3. Feign interest but do nothing about it. This at least prevents the originator from taking it elsewhere
  4. Scorn it. “You’re joking, of course”. Make sure to get your comment in before the idea is fully explained
  5. Laugh it off. “Ho, ho, ho, that’s a good one. You must have been awake all night thinking that up.”
  6. Praise it to death. By the time you have expounded its merits for five minutes everyone else will hate it
  7. Mention that it has never been tried before. If the idea is genuinely original, this is certain to be true. Alternatively, say, “If the idea’s so wonderful, why hasn’t someone else already tried it?”
  8. Say, “Oh, we’ve tried that before” – even if it’s not true. Particularly effective with new-comers. It makes them realise what complete outsiders they are.
  9. Come up with a competitive idea. This can be a dangerous tactic, however, as you might still be left with an idea to follow up.
  10. Stall it with any of the following: “We’re not ready for it yet, but in the fullness of time…”; “I’ve been wanting to do that for a long time, but right now…”; “Let’s wait until the new organisation has settled down…”
  11. Modify it out of existence. This is elegant, you seem to be helping the idea along, just changing it a bit here and there. By the time the originator realises what’s happening, the idea is dead.
  12. Try to chip bits off it. If you fiddle with an idea long enough, it may fall to pieces
  13. Make a strong personal attack on the originator. By the time he or she has recovered, the idea won’t seem so important
  14. Appoint a committee to sit on the idea. As Sir Barnett Cox observed, “A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured, then quietly strangled.”
  15. Drown it in cold water, as in: ‘We haven’t got the staff to do it…the intangible risks would be too great…that’s all very well in theory, but in real life…’
  16. Return it to sender with, “You need to be much more specific about your proposal.”
  17. If all fails, encourage the originator to look for a better idea. Usually a discouraging quest!

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