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Giving ideas

by Matthew Leitch, 15 February 2006



Introduction
Policy #1: Give ideas consistent with the basic beliefs of the receiver
Policy #2: Give ideas after researching the circumstances
Policy #3: Offer ideas as hypotheses
Policy #4: Give reasons for thinking that ideas may be applicable
Policy #5: Give alternative ideas if possible
Policy #6: Free the receiver to accept or reject the idea but ensure all major reasons have been considered
Policy #7: Give the receiver time to assimilate new ideas; it may take months
Summary

Introduction

This article is about the delicate business of giving and receiving ideas. The most common reason for clients asking me to help them with their work is that they would like me to give them some ideas. Over the years I've learned a bit about giving and receiving ideas and formed some policies on how I give ideas in my role as an independent consultant and researcher. Here are those policies and the reasons for them.

Policy #1: Give ideas consistent with the basic beliefs of the receiver

When someone asks for ideas they want ideas that are consistent with their basic beliefs. Fortunately, that is not as much of a restriction as I used to think. We all have beliefs in our heads that are not consistent with each other, but we don't realise it. Advice only has to be consistent with some basic beliefs to be acceptable and useful. In addition, in the right conditions some people can be remarkably open minded.

In theory it would be possible to give ideas that are consistent with the receiver's beliefs but not the giver's. In practice it is hard to have ideas using beliefs you do not hold.

Policy #2: Give ideas after researching the circumstances

Giving ideas is a highly uncertain activity. There are so many hidden reasons why an idea might not be appropriate that any suggestion has no more than a chance of being usable. Some research will usually increase the chance of ideas hitting the spot. If the receiver hasn't already done something that seems obvious then the receiver is stupid or has some reason for leaving the idea. The most insulting mistake is to assume the receiver is stupid.

Another reason for researching before giving ideas is that ideas have to work in detail as well as in principle. Neither top down, nor bottom up thinking is as good as thinking that works in both directions simultaneously and rapidly. Every fragment of background information may be an important clue to the solution.


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The whole text of this article is freely available to you without registration by just clicking the link below. Please remember that this website exists because people (perhaps including you) express their thanks for its help in practical ways, such as thinking about how to use its ideas, my services, the book, taking part in research, suggesting topics, etc. Thanks for reading this and I hope you enjoy the full article.

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© 2006 Matthew Leitch
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