How to Know If an Idea’s Good or Crazy
“I have an idea.” These four words may be the most powerful four words in our language. But what makes an idea good instead of crazy? And is a crazy idea a bad idea? I think we have so many descriptors that we place before the word “idea” that we don’t even know what is what anymore. As a creative leader, I am on the never-ending hunt for both crazy and awesome ideas. Sometimes both are the same thing. As a rule, however, I think that most of us are afraid of crazy ideas.
I don’t know about you, but I am always afraid of the first idea. The first idea is the one that takes the most courage because it is the one that triggers the beginning of any process. Just a couple of days ago, we were sitting in a brainstorming meeting and trying to come up with some cool stuff for a series. We set the table around what we wanted to accomplish in the meeting—what our goals and target were—then the hush fell over the room. Who’s going to go first? Who is brave enough to say: “What if we…” Then it happened! Someone shared an idea. I can’t remember if it was a good or bad idea, but it was the starting gun of our creative meeting and it permissioned everyone else to start sharing. It was awesome. After that first idea the volume increased drastically. That’s a crazy idea.
Once we get to the end of the brainstorming session and we look around and evaluate the ideas that have been uncovered, we have to identify what is going to move into action. Our team loves the idea that feels almost impossible. It’s scary. It forces us to face the fear of something not working. It challenges us to do things that we have never done before and be okay if the end result doesn’t meet our expectations. The idea that we all agree we are going to get behind and chase with passion is the idea we want to get behind. That’s a crazy idea.
But then sometimes the fear is too strong. We hedge a little to only chase ideas we know we can accomplish. This doesn’t allow our team to stretch, grow, or get better. The truth is, there are times when the fear is stronger than courage, so instead of chasing we huddle and convince ourselves the idea is too crazy, when really we’re just afraid.
With every idea, we need a lens that helps us bring clarity. The question should not be: “is this crazy enough?” The first question should be: “Does this help us accomplish our goal?” Every creative team I talk to gets frustrated when the idea, good or bad, doesn’t help move the project forward. Creating for the sake of creating is valuable, but not in our services. The “bad crazy” ideas are the ideas that don’t lend to move the message forward. Our message never changes, but our methods should be continually evolving. “Bad crazy” ideas create sideways energy and confuse people. “Good crazy” ideas make teams do things that scare them. These are the ideas that we initially think we could never accomplish until we crush them. They are the ideas that require equal parts faith and courage. These are the ideas people talk about, record, and remember.
So let’s get crazy. Let’s be intentional in chasing the ideas that support our message and simultaneously scare us to death.