How to kill a good idea

Management guru John Kotter talks about four ways in which you can kill a good idea.

Whenever someone from your team/department/organisation comes up with a good idea, and which you do not wish to implement for your own selfish reasons, suggestions by Kotter will definitely help you in killing a good idea ( believe me, I have worked as Innovation SPOC for two years, with these methods death of good idea is guaranteed )

Fear mongering involves spreading anxiety, scaring others into believing that a good idea is far too risky to pursue. This kind of attack strategy is aimed at raising anxieties so that a thoughtful examination of a proposal becomes almost impossible. People begin to worry that implementing a genuinely good plan, pursuing a great idea, or making a needed vision a reality might be filled with frightening risks.

Death by delay entails stalling an idea with never-ending questions, straw polls, and meetings—until the idea eventually loses momentum and peters out. Death by delay can be a very powerful strategy because it is easy to deploy. A case is made that sounds so reasonable, where we should wait (just a bit) until some other project is done, or we should send this back into committee (just to straighten up a few points), or (just) put off the activity until the next budget cycle, or where we can use “we have too much on our plate right now” argument.


Confusion consists of peppering a conversation with a stream of irrelevant facts and convoluted questions, making it nearly impossible for the innovator to keep the discussion on track. A complex topic is not needed for a confusion strategy to work. Even the simplest of plans can be pulled into a forest of complexity where nearly anyone can become lost. Statistics can be powerful weapons, used not to clarify but to bewilder.


Ridicule is a direct attack on the character of the person who proposed the idea, creating indirect doubts about the idea itself. The proposers may be made to look silly. Questions may be raised about competence. Strong buy-in is rarely achieved if an audience feels uneasy with those presenting a proposal.

Feel free to share these with your boss; he can use these strategies to kill good ideas.





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