We’ve all been there. You’re sitting in that meeting for the new campaign, business opportunity or product launch and a truly different idea is thrown out — and people start getting a little freaked. Team members push away from the table, look up from their phones and start teeing up 237 concerns.
The bottom line: People are uncomfortable with the unknown. But, strong brands are the ones that disrupt their market, and that disruption usually starts within your team. The idea that riles your people may be the one that gets the most traction in a marketplace that has been lulled to sleep. While deep deliberation over any big idea is a must, the following responses are positive signs you may be onto a great one.
1. “We don’t do this.”
Translation: It’s so amazing we can’t do this, right?
A classic in the nay-saying world, this comment masquerades as adherence to the history of the brand or business. The reality is that it often isn’t about legacy — it comes from fear from your team that they have no idea (yet) how to do this. Big ideas aren’t a blueprint or plan for getting there. They are the nugget that should be explored to determine whether it is worth digging and extracting the gold. Great leaders and brands “will do this” if you’re sitting on a goldmine.
2. “That could get us sued.”
Translation: It’s so aggressive, the competition might notice us.
A favorite and a distinct reality in today’s litigious environment, this comment plays directly into the exact fear that your competition wants you to embrace to avoid you stealing their candy. Disruptive ideas should not aim to gain the attention of the competitor’s legal team — they should aim to get the attention of your competition’s customers. Research your claims, invest in the undeniable proof and make your idea bulletproof. Market challengers often get cease and desist letters when the big boys realize they are a legitimate threat — it’s a sign they’ve made it. Pick your battles — and a good lawyer.
3. “Nobody else is doing it.”
Translation: We aren’t that smart — there has to be a reason nobody else is doing it.
This one-two punch starts with self-doubt that an idea is actually novel and is hammered home with fear that there must be a very good reason the competition has left it on the table. Great businesses and leaders have the confidence to trust their big ideas and give themselves the credit when one is perfect for their brand. Perhaps the competitors didn’t use your idea because it didn’t fit their brand. Maybe they didn’t use it because they thought other brands already balked at it for good reason. Or maybe it actually is — in fact — a completely new idea. Nobody else is doing it. That’s the point.
4. “This is just weird.”
Translation: I don’t understand the idea — or, people will not expect this.
The term “weird” is often used interchangeably with “new” by team members who don’t know what to make of something that is completely unexpected. The reality is that weird or unexpected gets noticed — it can be the critical nudge that gets your customers to pay attention and relate to your brand or business in a way your category has yet to see. If your “weird” idea is 100 percent aligned with your unique value and audience driver, it’d be strange to default to the expected. Great brands, particularly upstarts, embrace weird because weird gets you in the conversation. You remember the weird guy or gal at the party. Just realize that weird in the medical field must be far more nuanced than weird in the candy space.
5. “We probably need to discuss this with [insert name on door of corner office].”
Translation: I’m not owning this because it’s too big.
This one is simple. When your team is looking for guidance from the guy/gal at the top, you’ve come up with something that may have a big impact — potentially beyond your specific unit. Embrace your team’s desire to involve the top brass, but make sure the idea has a bulletproof rationale that explains why the big idea — and potentially big risk — are worth it in moving business. It gives you a fighting chance if the boss says, “We don’t do this because it’s weird, nobody else is doing it and it will damn sure get us sued.”
Great ideas are scary, but that’s what makes them great. Once you start seeing the positive side of your naysayers’ arguments, you’ll be on your way to creating something truly unforgettable.