Rule #8 There are no bad ideas, some just need more time to age

I owe this rule to my time at 3M.

Innovative Culture

Their culture of innovation was based on several things, but the one that resonated with me was how conceptual failures by 3M’s engineering and science areas (so-called bad ideas) were not tossed away.


Of course there is the famous Post It Note story.     


There are many more were an idea that was first, second or even longer a failure. But, thanks to good process of documenting the idea and the failures, with the most important part of having the ‘failure’ reviewed occasionally to give it another shot.


The innovative companies understand that you should never give up on any idea.

Some ideas are just not ready due to –


  • the organization is not ready for that large a leap
  • the technology is not available to make it a reality
  • the solution to make it successful is not present


Regardless of your organizations industry or role, you can have it be highly innovative, by being fostering an atmosphere of tolerating failure and reviewing your failures for future successes.

The more innovative you want to be the higher level of failure you need to be able to tolerate.


6 Simple Questions

I love these questions for a few reasons.

  • They are great to mix into interviews to see how people respond, react and lastly answer
  • I re-ask myself these several times a year and especially before I am interviewing or starting a new project
  • Use them when I am working with a new team to help me identify their focus

1. What has been the most effective motivator for you to do your best work ever?

2. What work has been the most difficult for you to delegate to others?

3. How would you define the purpose or goal of your work?

4. How have you tried to achieve excellence in the work you do?

5. Of which one of your failures are you most proud?

6. And which of your successes was completely undeserved?

Perhaps I will add my answers sometime in the future.