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Don't Let Doubt Kill Your Big Idea

January 17, 2012  

It happens to any innovator: As you develop a big idea, doubt inevitably sets in. "If you are doing something that hasn't been done before, careful analysis will by definition highlight reasons to not proceed," writes Scott Anthony at Harvard Business Review. "Market demand can't be validated. Experts dismiss technological assumptions. Partnership discussions stall." So how do you push through? He has this advice:

Don't stop believing. While trusting your intuition is important, your faith needn't be blind. Anthony uses a five-question checklist to decide if an idea is weak or fundamentally sound. For instance: "Is there a plausible hypothesis about an economically attractive, scalable business model?"

Get out of the office. Advancement opportunities, especially in corporate settings, can hinge on an executive's record of being "right." This creates an inherently cautious environment and risk-averse feedback. So be sure to get counsel from trusted colleagues and experts who have no stake in an idea's success or failure.


Finally, find the answer in action—not analysis. In the end, no amount of analysis will tell you if your big idea is as big as you think it is. "[I]f you are truly trying to disrupt, if you are trying to break from the norm and create exciting breakthrough growth business, there has to be faith involved," he says.

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