The happier twin brother of idea killers are idea growers. Things you can say in response to ideas to help them grow.

Unlike idea killers, these statements act as idea fertilizer, helping them to grow, find homes, make friends, and grow from ideas into solutions. Instead of ending conversations, they always provide a path for the idea to move forward, grow, or be the seed for other ideas.

(Thanks to Jennie Zehmer for suggesting this)

Idea starters

  • Great idea, keeping going with it.
  • What do you need to make this work?
  • How can I help you?
  • Whose support do you need?
  • I’ll stay as late as you do to write this proposal tonight.
  • How much time will it take to flesh this out?
  • Good, lets make a prototype and see if it holds together.
  • This is better than sex.
  • Here’s a blank check and the corner office.
  • Drop what you’re doing and focus on this.
  • Talk to Fred, our smartest guy, and see what he thinks.
  • What can you add to this to make it better?
  • What should change to help make this happen?
  • E-mail this out to the team and see what support you can get.
  • Lets run with this and see where it goes.
  • This rocks!
  • This has potential.
  • Make it happen.
  • What can we cut to make room for this?
  • What’s the next step?

Can you name others you’ve heard or said?

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16 Responses to “Idea helpers: ways to grow ideas”

  1. Greg |

    Talk to Fred, our second smartest guy, and see what he thinks.

  2. Scott (admin) |

    Or how about talk to Sally, our most creative person, and come up with a plan.

  3. James Bullock |

    “OK, our mission right now is X. You’re here because you’re smarter than I am about how we might do that. Come talk to me when you want me to help you some way.”

    “Astonish me.”

    “If I knew how to do all of it, I wouldn’t have hired you. So, what are you thinking?”

    “Really? So, what’s stopping you from going after this?” “OK. I’ll take that on. Suppose you could now what>”

    “Really? So, what’s stopping you from going after this?” “OK, that impediment sounds like your first problem.”

    One caveat about promoting the impediment of the moment to be the new problem – you can run right into some interesting realities. At one job we had “The Formal Impediment Group” – a CM roganization run amok, valuing a-priori repeatability over all progress. The head-impediment-in-charge of course got his smiling face on all progress, simply by preventing any progress that he couldn’t get his face on. We called him “Drano” in a pun on his name, but also in hopes that he might get flushed.

    Having identified the problem, and my boss having noted that this particular problem was a constraint rather than something we could solve . . I set out to solve it.

    Week after week I reported my progress in securing a “hit” on Mr. Drano, through specifiying the services, soliciting bids, vetting the vendors, and so on, backed by the appropriate *actual paperwork*, of course. In addition, we – my team – pushed the appropriate technical paperwork to have Mr. Drano “deleted” from the system, a S/ICNR, pronounced “snicker”, for Specification / Interface Change Request Notice (which name alone will give you some idea what we were up against.) On occasion we would burst into spontaneous song, singing “Kill the Drain-o, Kill the Drain-o . . . ” is faux-Elmer Fudd reminiscent of the hilarious cartoon of him and Buggs doing opera. With what? “With my magic snick-er, magic snick-er . . . ”

    Once you get people in a problem solving frame of mind, they might well identify the actual problem and try to solve it. So, don’t do that unless you are ready. Allow people to really think about what is going on and you may find yourself in the middle of MASH – the movie.

    Creativity, once unleashed, doesn’t tend to stay inside the lines.

  4. mary js |

    “go for it! “

  5. Timothy Johnson |

    Trying the simple improv comedy technique of “yes, and…” works well to encourage further discussion about an idea. If you really want to innovate, keep the ideas flowing to build on the divergent thinking. Great posts, Scott.

  6. Michael Wagner |

    How about three little questions: what if? what else? why not?

    Good post Scott!

  7. Carlos Torres |

    Sweeeeeeetttt *grin*, we have a development environment that mimics the production stuff you want to touch… I’ll send you the db schema and set you up with an account on the box…cvs, db, etc… Go Nuts…let me know when a prototype is ready and if you need an extra set of hands typing away, when we have a prototype ready we’ll setup a meeting to pitch it! *grin*

  8. Philip Bralich |

    This is great and very helpful. However, where are the solutions? I have a patent on some very useful software that has been ignored based largely on an excuse you haven’t mentioned, “the not-invented-here syndrowm.” I would love to find a forum to show my work (without huge fees) to serious investigators who are open to new ideas. Anything out there?

    Phil Bralich

  9. wael |

    what hold you to start

    if you got any problem doing it i will support you

    how can i help

    if you need any assistant to start just bring me on


    thats what i am talking about


    thats why i choose you

    that is what i said about you

  10. Renee Solomon |

    Unfortunately, I’ve never heard any of these at work. There’s always a reason to NOT change.

  1. [...] Of course if they were listening to Scott maybe they would have figured out how to innovate better in a corporate culture (since they are no longer the lean mean startup machine)…. [...]

  2. [...] Scott Berkun then followed up with an entry Idea Helpers: ways to grow ideas right before Thanksgiving. Same format as Idea Killers, but with phrases that engender idea growth. Click here for to link to the blog entry. [...]

  3. [...] a nice couple of posts (from a while ago) by the ever interesting Scott Berkun on phrases that can help or kill [...]

  4. [...] are others you’ve heard? (Also see Idea Helpers, a positive spin on the same [...]

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