“A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn.” —Charles Brower
At work, at home, or while volunteering, we are faced with presenting our creative solutions to sharks: spouse, boss, leader, children, city council, whomever. Many times our solutions are rejected, because, well, they’re bad ideas.
We can avoid championing bad ideas by putting our solutions through a checklist before selling them to the sharks. Answers to the following questions will determine whether your creative solution has merit.
Creative Solution Checklist
Nature of the Solution – the description of the idea.
- Is the idea simple?
- Can you summarize the idea in a few clear and concise sentences?
- Will the idea solve the problem completely or partially?
- Is the idea a permanent or temporary solution?
- Is the solution affordable?
Reception of the Solution – the way others will react to the idea.
- Could average people on the street accept it?
- Has a co-worker said he wishes he’d thought of the idea?
- Will the people involved be able to accept the changes the solution requires?
- Would God be pleased?
Results of the Solution – the noble value of the idea.
- Will the solution increase production or efficiency?
- Will the solution improve quality of life or quality of a product?
- Will the solution improve safety, working conditions, or work methods?
- Will the solution prevent waste, eliminate unnecessary work, conserve materials or reduce costs?
In building our dream home, I decided to incorporate arched interior transoms over two doors like I saw in a magazine. The transoms had glass and arched patterned wrought iron insets. The builder asked several times if I really wanted them. My husband, John, didn’t care if they were installed or not.
Problem: If I wanted the arched transoms, it was up to me to obtain the wrought iron insets and the half-circle glass windows.
Solution 1: I found online one pre-made wrought iron inset with an unappealing design. Then I discovered a company that would have to custom create the design, and the insets would cost $500 each, plus shipping. And this didn’t include the glass or our builder’s labor to form the arched frames. Total: $1,000+.
If I’d used the checklist to evaluate this solution before taking it to the sharks (husband and builder), it would have failed. It had become complicated. The cost didn’t fit into the budget. I believed the average man on the street would think the transoms were exorbitant for a bit of style. The expensive transoms had no noble use, other than they charmed me. Bad idea.
I was ready to give up the transoms.
Solution 2: John and I perused an outlet store with all kinds of home decorative items. On one aisle, we discovered patterned wrought iron half-circles the exact size we needed for $30 each. The only problem was the fleurs de lis soldered to their centers.
Excited, I summarized my solution in two sentences to shark John: “Buy these insets and remove the fleurs de lis. Purchase a round glass tabletop with the same diameter, which I saw for $60, and have it cut in half for the window sections. Total: $120.
This solution was simple. The cost was reasonable. The noble use, at that cost, was improving the artistic design of the house. John went for it.
John removed the fleurs de lis. The builder had the glass tabletop I bought cut in half for $5. John and I like how the transoms turned out.
What method do you use before you present a creative idea to your sharks?
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