Innovation is an important thing. If you don’t innovate, eventually your business will die. At the same time, not every new idea that you come up with is a good one. Having a way to figure out whether an idea is a good or bad one is a good idea.
You might want to ask yourself the following 7 questions before you go charging off on a new project. Taking a step back and asking if it’s really worth the effort is important. If you never get an answer of yes, then you have a problem. If you always get the answer yes, you also have a problem. You need a balance and these questions will help you make wiser decisions.
What’s the purpose of the idea?
Do you know what your new idea is supposed to do? Can you explain it clearly on one page to a fifth grader? If your answer is no, go back and start over again. Ideas that are not simple and clear often don’t make sense when they’re fleshed out.
How does this idea fit into my life and or business?
Is this idea going to be consistent with your personal and business mission? How will this be consistent with both? If you can’t answer these questions stop until you can.
How much work does this idea add to my life?
Another part of this question might be what do I have to drop to add this project to my life? You can’t just keep piling one thing on top of another. At some point you’ll need to decide what works and what doesn’t when it comes time to implement a new idea.
What will it take to accomplish this idea?
This question is not only about the amount of time you need, but who is going to be involved and how much will it cost. This is a good place to drill down on why. Once you get a really good reason why you want to do this, you can then probably more easily answer what it will take to get a great result.
What additional resources will I need to make this work?
Resources in this context are not only around the amount of money you need. It also is how much brainpower it will drain from you. Who do you need to help along the way? I’ve yet to do anything worthwhile where I did it all by myself. I’ve always had help. Knowing what sort of help you’ll need and how to enroll those into helping you are important questions to answer.
How will I know whether to keep going or quit?
This is a really important question. Too often I start doing something and I don’t ever quit. This is where what’s known as “sunk costs” come into play.
I find that many times a person I’m working with won’t stop because they’ve already committed a certain amount of time, energy and resources to a project. They think that if they just do a little more work, then everything will turn around. At some point, you have to know when it’s time to throw in the towel. Having that decision point before you start is important.
When will I be done?
Most of the time 90% is more than good enough. In many cases, 85 or even 80% is good enough. To find out whether you have a doable idea it might even be 60%. Getting every last little thing correct before you start will often guarantee that you’ll never start.
A really successful baseball player only gets a hit one third of the time. Why is it that you need to be 99% ready before starting? I think that if you ask yourself hard questions about this, you’ll realize that close is often good enough.
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