How to listen to ideas

2 min readJun 13, 2017


There are lots of ideas out there in this world. We need ideas. Of course we need doers — people who step up and experiment and build these ideas.

But a society without ideas is one that stagnates. We need ideas that move the world forward.

Often times, in communities and companies, we are discouraged from coming up with ideas.


- Governance

- Norms

- Culture

The list goes on. For whatever reason, anything that restricts ideas can close off potential.

If you are working at a company, big or small, ideally the culture will promote ideation and experimentation, not prevent it.

The opposite becomes true when bureaucracy steps in and closes off freedom.

When people look down on bad ideas, we lose out on potential for new ones.

The problem is that some ideas are bad. Most ideas are really bad.

Knowing that, how do you listen to ideas?

- Look for the underlying perspective.

Beneath every idea is a thought. A spark. People do not just come up with ideas — they have a reason for doing so. Figure out what that reason is.

Even if the “front-end” of that idea is bad, there is a motive powering it. There is a human instinct that explains why they not only thought of but also went on to explain that idea.

Perhaps they were getting at something.

Perhaps they found the right trigger but the wrong implementation.

Listen to ideas. Great managers listen.

Luckily I’ve worked with awesome people who continue to take chances on me — try to find those people!

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