“Can we do one more study?”
I heard top management ask that question many times during the two years I spent working on new products at The New York Times.
It’s a question that’s raised often at many big companies when a new idea is being discussed. In the case of The New York Times, what management was really asking my colleagues and I was: are the three, soon-to-be launched paid products you’ve been working on going to turn out to be any good, or are we wasting our money?
Big companies obsessively ask that question, because their approach to new ideas is that there are good ones than can be developed into revenue generators, and bad ones that should be abandoned as quickly as possible so as not to waste resources. Even as we move into an era of large-scale incubation of new ventures by enterprises, in which large, established companies increasingly play the entrepreneurial game, we see this overwhelming instinct to boil everything down to good idea versus bad idea, conclusively and irrefutably.
What’s interesting is that this is not how entrepreneurs generally approach ideas, initiatives, and strategies.