They’re Excited – You’re Not

Leaders who kill new ideas love living with old problems.

A manager asks, “What should I do when someone on the team is excited about an idea, but I’m not?”

Your response to imperfect ideas determines engagement, enthusiasm, ownership, gratitude, and respect for you.


All new ideas are imperfect, even yours.

10 responses to imperfect ideas:

  1. Listen to the idea’s story. What made you think of this idea?
  2. Monitor their emotions. Watch for light in the eyes. Does your culture cause idea-generators to protect themselves? Are you a nit-picker or a nay-sayer? I hope you see how foolish this is.
  3. Reflect the light. If they dare to light up, light up with them. Find the good in their imperfect idea.
  4. Clarify short-term objectives. What can your new idea accomplish this week? Short-term perspectives make it real, ignite urgency, and identify forward-moving behaviors.
  5. Connect short-term objectives with long-term goals. How does your idea move us toward our preferred future?
  6. Anticipate success. What does success look like?
  7. Explore danger, gently. What might go wrong? How can you prepare for contingencies? The truth about imperfect ideas is they create new challenges and problems.
  8. Give permission for a trial run or pilot program. Lets try it!
  9. Honor progress and inquire about issues.
  10. Establish a follow-up meeting to evaluate results. Did you achieve your short-term objectives? Would you like to keep trying? How do you need to adapt?


The old problem you’re trying to solve requires new ideas.

4 principles:

  1. Respect for their idea feels like respect for them.
  2. Anticipated or imagined problems that kill new ideas are usually exaggerations.
  3. When you meddle in their new idea, ownership migrates to you.
  4. When they own it, they make it happen.

The question is will it help, not, is it perfect.

What responses to imperfect ideas keep the ball rolling?

How much imperfection is too much?