Great Idea Or A Dud?

When I was younger (and had less dental work in my mouth), one of my favorite candies to purchase at the movies was Milk Duds. The blend of ooey-gooey caramel and chocolate – FANTASTIC! Recently, I heard the story of how the Milk Dud was created and it got me thinking: As a leader, how do you decide if your bright ideas are worth pursuing, or if they are a “dud”?

First, here is the story of the Milk Dud…

In 1928, the F. Hoffman Candy Company wanted to create a new confection to introduce to the market. Their original goal was to create a perfectly round circle of caramel coated in chocolate. They tried many times, but quickly found out that the two ingredients were too soft, and it just wasn’t feasible to get the candy to stay round. They sent the “duds” home with their workers and decided to move on to a new idea; however, the feedback from the families was overwhelmingly positive and they were quickly asking for more. So, they kept the “dud” as their new idea, even though it was not the original intention for their result. What we got is something delightful, chewy, (and a dentist’s nightmare); but also, a big hit in the candy market for almost 100 years!

Now, back to my question… As a leader, how do you decide if your bright ideas are worth pursuing, or if they are a “dud”? What are the criteria that you should use to assess whether it’s a “go” or a “no-go?”

Here are five ways to assess your bright ideas and new opportunities:

  1. RESOURCES – Make sure in the current state of your company that you have the time, energy, and financial resources to devote to research and implementation of your new idea. If your business is struggling to keep up with current demand, or if you are financially struggling it might not be the best time to bite off another opportunity.
  2. VALUE – Decide if this is part of your overall business strategy and mission before you move forward. If this is a “unicorn” idea that seems too good to be true or takes your focus off your core business and customer, be careful! It could take your business off course and deplete valuable resources and affect your growth. Make sure it provides value for your business today, or if not that you have the resources to sustain it until it does provide value in the future.
  3. RESEARCH – There is no substitute for solid research and doing your due diligence. Take the time to dig deep and carefully measure the opportunities with facts, not emotion. Make sure that you aren’t so excited for the opportunity and what you see as the upside that you don’t listen to the red flags that could be pointing out a danger zone! As the saying goes, “Measure Twice, Cut Once.”
  4. PLANNING – Create a clear road map that outlines alternative scenarios for execution of your bright idea. Be realistic and consider all the outside influences that can affect your outcome – i.e., the future direction of the economy, changes in your industry, your competition, your customer profile, etc. Establish a realistic income goal and then reduce it by 20% and see if that still meets your financial plan. Don’t dive off the cliff until you know how deep the water is.
  5. TIMING – Remember, many times the answer is not “no”, it’s just “no, for now.” Timing IS EVERYTHING! Be mindful of what is the right time for you. In some instances, you will have a unique opportunity that won’t come around again and that must be factored into the decision.

As you go through these criteria, keep in mind that even after you have researched, planned, and executed at what you feel is the right time, you still might get a “dud.” That’s okay – sometimes those mistakes turn out to be blessing in disguise…. or should I say, “imperfect circles of caramel coated in chocolate”. FANTASTIC!

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