Idea Helpers And Killers

Sadly that’s rarely the case…

There’s a nice couple of posts (from a while ago) by the ever interesting Scott Berkun on phrases that can help or kill ideas.

Here’s a brief extract:

  • Great idea, keep going with it
  • What do you need to make this work?
  • How can I help you?
  • I’ll stay as late as you do to write this proposal tonight
  • How much time will it take to flesh this out?


  • Not an interesting problem
  • We don’t have the time
  • Execs will never go for it
  • Out of scope
  • Too blue sky / holy grail

At least in my experience, the latter type of responses tend to be more common than the former. Sometimes it’s not badly meant, it’s just that natural reservations (and perhaps personal experience) come into play and risks are unintentionally emphasised over opportunities.

However, on a more positive note, I can still remember one such energising interaction quite vividly:

I’d just joined a very large company that was undergoing enormous change and which was encouraging new approaches and suggestions. I spoke to my manager about an idea I had and he suggested I go and talk to one of the Board Members about it. I was quite impressed by this, seemingly having ready and direct access to one of the most senior members of the company, although a bit intimidated as well (was my idea that good that I needed to go that high to move it along, should I think it through a bit more first?).

Anyway, I arranged a meeting and it seemed to go well. He nodded and smiled throughout. I finished what I had to say and he then replied ‘Sounds good, how can I help you?’. I was rather taken aback by this as I was expecting something along the lines of ‘Promising idea, I think it would be useful to talk to X about this, he/she will be interested’ or similar. To be honest, I was so taken aback I didn’t actually have any ideas how he could personally help me although it was obvious that with a bit of thought there’d be many!

What I learned from this is that if you’re telling people about an idea you have, think beforehand of some imaginative ways where they may be able to help you, no matter what their position or seniority. These may not be the best ways but it gets the conversation going. Actually they’re the ones that are best placed to make additional connections and links which they’ll probably enjoy doing anyway. It’s a nice and very human feeling when you know that you’ve been genuinely helpful to someone.

So, have courage in your ideas, be bold and get that two-way conversation going!

They’ll remember you, which is often half the battle.

Picture credit: here.


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