How to get people to listen to your ideas

published3 months ago
1 min read

Happy Friday !

There is big misconception in the worlds of innovation, creativity, startups and business in general.

And that is a focus on “ideas.”

Inspiration in the shower. The napkin sketch. A flash of brilliance.

Managers, investors and self-proclaimed “idea people” talk of big ideas, disruptive ideas and worst of all — billion dollar ideas!

Some even want to “protect” their idea and have others sign a confidentiality agreement to even share it.

And you'd love for people to listen to your ideas.

It’s simply the wrong focus. It is not where the value lies.

When someone is pitching me an idea, my intuitive reaction -- the thing I feel inside is, “Sure, I guess you could do that…”

But given the number of ideas I have heard, seen, coached, evaluated, worked on and taken to market, I don’t get that excited about ideas.

Especially when they are just hung out there like a single pair of skivvies on the clothesline. I have so many questions!

Now I have nothing against ideas, but too many of them are empty notions without context; Offered without clarity about the specific challenge or opportunity it addresses; Or how it will get built; Or the challenges it may face.

What they are missing is clarity about all the things relating to the idea -- it’s context.

Clarity about the context is an amazing thing.

It’s insight. It’s focus. It’s understanding.

When someone provides clarity about the context of their idea, that’s when I can really engage in a thoughtful evaluation or collaboration on direction and possibilities.

Why is clarity of the idea’s context so important?

Because upon launch, every idea enters “its context” where it will be put to the test. What do I mean by context?


The messy, many dimensional, uncontrollable, ever changing real world.

In the real world, the idea has to fight for its life against convention, momentum, competition and most simply, awareness.

How well have you undertsood and clarified the world that the idea will be thrust into? How much have you used that clarity to shape the idea for success?

So when you get excited about “an idea” and want to share it, communicate the context of the idea and share the idea in relation to the context.

Your audience will be much more receptive and able to provide more meaningful feedback.

What are all the elements of context? Well, it's probably infinite, but I made this quick reference of the elements that I most often look at when researching an idea and its context.

Download the PDF here.

Have a great weekend!


p.s. I didn’t mention that there is another problem with the notion of “an idea.” It’s that any given solution is composed of many ideas, not "an idea." You need all those ideas, layered and integrated together, to address the complexity and challenges of the real world.

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