Canabalize your ideas

It’s not wording that paints the best mental picture, I know (maybe the unassuming Pac-Man imagery will soften the edge), but it is a notion that ultimately leads to a better outcome.

The idea for this post struck me while reading Walter Isaacson’s biography about Steve Jobs. The relationship he had with ideas — even his own, was uncommon. When he came up with an idea he was never afraid to start attacking it — even if the idea had costly short term implications. A well-known example was the conflict that arose when Jobs wanted to push ahead with the iPhone at a time when iPod sales were extraordinary. The introduction of the iPhone would cannibalize iPod sales, but Jobs knew if they didn’t make the move, competitors would, and they would lose their edge in the market.

The lessons embedded in this maxim are twofold and quite simple:

  1. Don’t sit on your ideas. Yes, ideas do have a shelf-life. Neglect them for too long and they become irrelevant or taken.
  2. Don’t become overly attached to your existing ideas. Mavericks must be prepared to challenge, deconstruct, and consume their own brain children. It could be argued that the best ideas are those that inspire other, greater ideas — even if there is short term pain in doing so. Innovation essentially means using our existing ideas as fuel to generate new and better ideas.

So, stop protecting and defending your ideas and start protecting your ultimate mission. You can’t have both — at least in the long term (Tweet this quote).

Be a Maverick,

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