As we continue to review Robert Sutton’s weird
, we need to consider what to do after you get
the right people
and build
the right environment
to encourage innovation.  

How do you know which
ideas will lead to successful new products?

You don’t.  

But, weird ideas seven and
eight will give you a couple of tips!

Weird Idea 7: Decide to Do Something That Will
Probably Fail, Then Convince Yourself and Everyone Else That Success Is Certain

Chances are we have
already decided “to do something that will probably fail”. Most attempts at
innovation do fail.  

The only way to give an
idea a fighting chance is to “convince yourself and everyone else that success
is certain”. “There is overwhelming
evidence for the power of positive thinking, that belief can create reality.”

Professor Sutton reviews
several studies pointing to belief and commitment as critical success factors
in innovation. “Taken together, these
studies and cases imply that, if you can’t decide which new projects or ideas
to be on based on their objective merits pick those that will be developed by
the most committed and persuasive heretics you can find.”  

Great advice: “Focus on
“pulling the plug” on failed ideas more quickly, not on reducing your failure

Weird Idea 8: Think of Some Ridiculous or
Impractical Things to Do, Then Plan to Do Them

  1. By considering the opposite, you may make clear what ought to be done 
  1. By considering crazy ideas, you might just find ideas that aren’t so crazy after all. “What could be a dumber idea than selling Pet Rocks? Perhaps not selling them…jolt people into questioning the existing dogma and…generate counterintuitive ideas.”
  1. By acting on a crazy idea, you may just “develop an idea that others won’t copy – at least right away.”  

As Professor Sutton points
out, “…many new ideas are generated by people who are seen as deviants within
their companies, industries, and societies…thinking and acting differently is
given lip-service in most companies, but when people actually do it, they are
ignored, humiliated, and fired.”

One caution: “Outlaw even
light-hearted ridicule and put-downs when people suggest these wacky ideas.”