March 16, 2015

How many times has a co-worker come to you with a “good idea?”

The idea even seems to make sense. And, because it sounds almost too good to be true, time and money are invested in that “good idea,” turning it into a reality.

It is important to remember that even the best intentioned and best informed people make huge mistakes in their lives. In fact, it is often the most knowledgeable individuals (who even have your best interests in mind) who err in the sight of their own good ideas.

Just because something seems to make sense at first glance doesn’t signal “go ahead full.”

Because individuals you respect have a good idea, it doesn’t mean “start running with the ball.”

The assumptions behind those good ideas must be thoroughly examined. A genuine need for those good ideas must be practically present. And, after you check all that out, you’d better also determine if the need is widespread enough to be educationally and/or cost-effectively viable.

In other words, thoroughly search for unseen limitations that the “good idea” did not initially recognize.

I’ll give you a personal example. Many years ago, when videotape was the only media game in town, our research indicated that there was a real need for “Maintenance Management” training. Many of our customers indicated both their need and their willingness to consider a purchase.

So we produced a six-part series.

What happened?!?

We sold two and took a financial bath.


The approving authorities in those interested facilities said, “No!” — because of the very small numbers that needed the training. Lateral training methods were preferable because the cost/benefit analysis did not justify the expenditure in our more expensive videotapes.

Moving blindly ahead with a good idea — even coming from someone you know and respect is foolish, unless you’ve done your homework — and that should include a brutally honest assessment of the population that the good idea purports to serve, as well as the true costs of bringing that good idea to fruition.

Even your best friends — and your most respected colleagues — can unwittingly mislead you.

So, be wary of the well-intentioned colleague who tells you, “Our workforce needs expensive media training in this new subject!” — or the brilliant programmer who exclaims, “No sweat, I can build that, easy!” — or, the customer who tells you, “If only you had it, I’d buy it.”

Each of those individuals means well, but all they are offering you is a starting point for further objective research into the true needs and limitations of that ‘good idea.’

Just “because you can” doesn’t necessarily mean, “you should!”

More on Wednesday – – –

— Bill Walton: co-Founder, ITC Learning (Mondays & Wednesdays)