Implementing a new idea can be very risky, especially when it will impact something of significant value. Quite frequently there is no model or data available to predict what will happen when you implement. Oftentimes you will have to seek input on an idea elsewhere or rely on your own intuition to guess the outcome. However, I don’t necessarily think that it’s a good idea for decision makers and leaders in particular to rely heavily on their own intuition. That’s how mistakes are made and I’ll explain what I mean.
It’s career fair time here at Purdue University and as I find myself in the last semester of my college career, I also find myself in the midst of an aggressive job hunt. The other night I was thinking about ways I could differentiate myself from others as speak with recruiters. I was also playing around with Photoshop at the time and came up with the “I HATE STEVE HILL” graphic you see below. I had the idea of getting this graphic printed on brightly colored card stock and dispersing it throughout the university career fair locations in a very guerrilla-esque manner. The thought being that recruiters would see it, think “Wow who is this guy? He’s shockingly different and could be a spark in our organization. I’ll check his website out.” I could see one of my business heroes, Alex Bogusky, doing something like this so I figured that I could pull it off too.
Before I was ready to put my good name on the line in front of dozens of recruiters, I decided that I would seek the advice of an experienced individual for my idea. I have a tremendous amount of respect for my advertising professor, Dr. Jensen, so I turned to him for a little advice on personal branding. I explained to him that I wanted to pick his brain and see what he thought of my idea. He basically told me that although it’s a clever idea and might get some positive response, most people would probably not be very receptive to it. He also mentioned that in this scenario its probably a better idea to stick to traditional methods of promoting yourself. I had given myself some time to think about it and was already growing wary of my own idea. Consequently I took his advice and filed my idea away in my mental archive of risky ideas.
Assuming my professor made a correct prediction, I would have been in an uncomfortable position had I relied on my initial intuition and implemented my idea. I don’t think that incorporating an innovative concept into a business model carries different risks. Leaders who must decide which ideas to implement cannot rely solely on their own intuition to make decision just because there is no available data on it. Rather, they should seek the input of experts, colleagues, and friends before they make a risky decision.