Adam Grant explores some of the myths around this in his latest book Originals.
He points out that success is less about willingness to risk take, and more about skill in risk mitigation.
And that more is more when it comes to ideas turning into successful outputs. (You need to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince/princess).
But when you are dealing with lots of ideas, being able to successfully judge which to proceed with, as early as possible, is the difference between success - and the Segway.
"Inventors will necessarily struggle mightily in gauging whether their creations are ultimately frogs or princes. The best way to get better at judging our ideas is to gather feedback. Put a lot of ideas out there and see which ones are praised and adopted by your target audience."You need to hear how your customers feel about your idea. You need to connect early, and often.
"When building the Segway, (the) team generated a wide number of ideas, but didn’t have enough critical input from customers to make the right choices for the final product. The device went through three or four iterations before a customer ever saw it.
Conviction in our ideas is dangerous not only because it leaves us vulnerable to false positives, but also because it stops us from generating the requisite variety to reach our creative potential"
The lesson is simple. Inventors are poor at evaluating the value of their idea versus customer need or response. Managers are equally poor:
"In the face of uncertainty, our first instinct is often to reject novelty, looking for reasons why unfamiliar concepts might fail. When managers vet novel ideas, they’re in an evaluative mindset. To protect themselves against the risks of a bad bet, they compare the new notion on the table to templates of ideas that have succeeded in the past."
Trusting our customers and - particularly in the ideation and concept stages, giving them the tools to be open to the novel (think of the tools deployed to drive open thinking in the Design Thinking process), is your route to the highest hit rate. and the lowest waste of creative effort, time and money.