Face the fear when you evaluate ideas

Innovation and change mean risk, and that scares a lot of people.

When employees and managers fear taking risks, they may not look closely—or fairly—at ideas for new products, improvements, and cost-cutting measures. To evaluate new ideas more thoroughly, try this process:

• Pluses. Name three positive aspects of the idea. If it’s a new product, for example, your pluses might be: 1) “It lets us target a new market”; 2) “It complements the products we’re already making”; and 3) “It’s cool.”

• Potentials. Identify three positive results that might spring from the idea, once implemented: 1) “We can increase our market share”; 2) “We can make more money”; and 3) “We can be seen as an innovative, creative organization.”

• Concerns. Consider anything that might go wrong with your idea. For example, “If the product doesn’t catch on quickly, we might have to lay people off.”

• Response. Can you generate some ideas that respond to your concerns? “We can do focus groups to test the potential response, and start out producing the products in small numbers until we’re sure it’s viable,” for instance.

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