Sunday, September 25, 2016

Killer Phrases

Today's post was contributed by Margit Weisgal, author of Show and Sell: 133 Business-Building Ways to Promote Your Trade Show Exhibit. Margit is managing director of DARE and writes for The Baltimore Sun.

Chic Thompson wrote one of my favorite books, What a Great Idea!, about the way creativity is stifled in organizations by people uttering what he calls Killer Phrases.

Imagine, if you will, someone staring you down when you suggest a new way of doing something and, then, saying, “But we’ve always done it this way” or “It’ll never work.”

You drop your head and wish it were possible to sink through the floor and disappear. “Why,” you ask yourself, “did I open my mouth? Why did I even try?”

Change is scary to a lot of people; unfortunately, we face change on a daily basis because we’ve evolving at an unheard of pace with new everything: new technology, new opportunities, and new competitors, all of which seem to loom on the horizon, forcing us to rethink how we function.

We’d far prefer to play it safe and maintain the status quo. But we can’t stay the same. It’s that simple. Moving forward is the only option. And those naysayers, the perpetrators of Killer Phrases, should be left out of any conversation. New ideas should be greeted with delight. Figure out how to make it work. Not every idea is a great idea, but they should all be considered.

Killer Phrases are nothing new. “The negative voice of 'It’ll never work!' has been around a long time," Thompson writes. "In 1899, the Director of US Patent Office declared, 'Everything that can be invented, has been invented!' and tried to close the Office down.”

Business is about connecting with customers, telling a story that resonates with them. With every new decade and every new generation, we have to change. Thompson says the key to innovation is “abandoning the obsolete, the irrelevant, and the programs without promise.”

It's time to kill the Killer Phrases. The next time someone says to you, “What if…,” respond with, “Let me hear it and we’ll see how we can make it work.”

Wouldn’t that be a nice change of pace?
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