Great idea!

Twice in two days, I stumbled across a great idea. Brilliant, in fact. One was a name for a new organization, and the other was a clever idea for a costumed event. Both left me nodding, smiling.

After the initial glow wore off, I found myself looking for ways to improve each idea. What about adding this? I thought. Or we could… I posited. Each time, I put on the brakes and backed off–thankfully. Those ideas were terrific as they stood; why should I mess with them? Here’s why: neither idea was mine.

How arrogant is that?! Positively shameful, that’s what it is. Sure, if I’ve got something to contribute, I should speak up. The best solutions often evolve from the initial idea. When I find myself casting about just for a way to put my fingerprints on something, though, it’s time to step back.

It’s okay, Tammy-girl, not only to acknowledge someone else’s great idea, but also to appreciate it and embrace it. Oh yeah, and to learn from it, too.

Thankfully, I reeled myself in before I mucked it up. Each time, I walked away having told my colleague, “Great idea!” And I was right.

Little bites

I know a guy who is really, really good at what he does. He maintains a terrific big picture view while still understanding the details which can make or break the success of his projects. He’s a deep thinker, and when I ask him a question about his realm of influence, I know I’m going to get a thorough and thoughtful answer. Everyone needs a guy like this on her team.

Sometimes, though, this guy becomes his own biggest obstacle. When he has an idea, his mind is off and running. He has gone through steps J, K, and L before most people get beyond A, B, and C. He’s busy solving problems that haven’t yet occurred and probably won’t occur until somewhere down the timeline–by which point a lot of variables could change. He often hesitates to pull the trigger on a project until he can work out the answers to those problems.

Many times, that’s exactly the right approach–but many times it’s not.

Not every project is an all-or-nothing proposition. We don’t have to go from A to Z in a single step. We can launch our project or product and service before we get to Z if

  • The new solution is better than what came before it, i.e. it makes people happy.
  • Each step is a (fairly) natural progression, not a complete rework of the one before it.
  • Showing continued improvements or making updates signals progress/activity/forward motion.

Think of a website, for example. Little improvements over time can actually be a positive thing. It keeps your audience feeling as though your work is fresh, the content is dynamic, and there’s always a new reason to visit. That’s not a place where you want to publish a TA-DA! product and sit back. Yeah, I know, building the infrastructure requires a fairly specific vision for the future, but once the infrastructure is in place, you can always make improvements along the way. The trick is understanding when to forge ahead and when to wait.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

What have you done for me lately?

superbowl nolaI’ll admit it. I sucked on a few sour grapes watching yesterday’s Super Bowl Duper pre-game coverage. Listening to the commentary, anyone would think New Orleans is the best host city for the Super Bowl Game ever.

Pardon my personal bias, but I thought Indianapolis did a super fine job last year. The city put on a brilliant display of hospitality, and the festivities wowed visitors and residents alike. It was a terrific celebration. In fact, all the commentators said so. Just the way they said…so…this…year… Oh. I get it.

Besides the fact that it’s the commentators’ job to talk up the host city on national TV, Indy was last year. It’s over, and the world has moved on. And you know what? That’s exactly what it should have done.

Years ago, I knew a CEO who gathered his company’s employees together to report results after the close of each fiscal year. Year after year, the company broke records for both revenue and profit. You’d think the meeting would be one of celebration, but after giving hearty congratulations and expressing his gratitude, the CEO developed amnesia. That was yesterday, he’d say. What are you going to do for us today? Tomorrow?

We can’t bask in the glow of the past for too long, or we won’t move forward. Instead of looking behind, we need to look ahead. What goals are in front of us? What do we need to do to accomplish them? How can we do it (even) better next time?

Kudos to NOLA for putting on a super party this year, game time power outage notwithstanding. (Okay, that prompted a little Schadenfreude on my part.) There really is no other city that screams Party on! like the Big Easy. But twelve months from now the Big Apple will be the greatest city to host the Big Game.

Until the next one.