4 Questions that Define a Useful Idea

Good ideas aren’t necessarily useful. Any idea that you can’t act on today is a glamourous distraction.

Useful ideas are actionable today.

A bucket full of good ideas is paralyzing.

Choose a mission that’s clear enough to challenge people. Don’t change it. Adopt goals that apply in turbulence or calm and stick with them.

Chasing new ideas feels exciting, but your team is tired of starting new things before finishing this thing.

Image of glamorous gems.

Ideas you can't act on today are glamorous distractions

4 questions that define a useful idea:

#1. Can the horses pull the wagon?

Forget about the horses you wish you had. Useful ideas require you to dig in, but the horses you have must be able to make progress.

Good ideas sparkle and sing but an idea that paralyzes the team is a disillusionment.

Tip: Hire for progress, not maintenance.

#2. Do the horses want to pull the wagon?

Few things are more dazzling than a good idea that requires OTHERS to fulfill it.

  1. Where are the horses in the barn willing to go?
  2. What are YOU prepared to do to get there?

#3. What if you don’t pull the wagon at all?

Ideas matter when they improve things. If you don’t pull the wagon at all, will anything be lost?

#4. What does progress look like today?

It’s tragic when people end a day of hard work but can’t describe what they got done.  

Define progress.

People need to know what winning today looks like.

  1. What will be different at the end of the day if we make progress?
  2. What do we need to do – now – to make progress today?
  3. What’s distracting us from making progress?
  4. How might we eliminate roadblocks to progress?
  5. What can we finish today?

Tip: Define progress in terms of behaviors.

How do you define a useful idea?

What distracts us from useful ideas?