New Ideas or Old, Tried-and-True Ideas?

I had an interesting dialogue with a client who kept telling me, “That’s an okay idea, but it’s not new.”

She craved new ideas to position and grow her consulting business. “I want a single idea that changes everything, that makes my business in a new direction, that is new and that no one else is doing. You aren’t giving me any new ideas.” 

In this case, I asked her to take a moment and list all the ideas she “already knew” that would grow her business.

We listed them one by one. Then I asked her to honestly assess her commitment to and execution of those ideas. 

She gave herself low scores on almost every one. 

“But that’s because I want a new idea, something never done.” she insisted. 

I didn’t say this at the time, but I definitely thought that many executives, especially those from academic or consulting backgrounds, often focus on getting new ideas. But they aren’t even executing tried and true ideas (ideas like making business development a top priority, or nurturing  business relationships for the long term). 

They prefer to be smart than be successful. 

In some cases, and I suspect in this client’s case, they will automatically say, “That’s now new” as a defensive mechanism to set them apart and above from others. But really this pseudo-intellectual snobbery does nothing to move their business forward. 

Ideas are easy. Action and effective execution are hard. 

Dont get me wrong: many executives can benefit from fresh new ideas. But not when they pursue ideas in and of themselves, so that nothing gets done. 

This same client has tendency to flit from one new idea of fad to the next. Yet her business remains flat. 

If this sounds like you, then maybe you should look back at some tried and true ideas, and focus on the hard, disciplined work of taking action and getting things done effectively. 

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