The worst thing you can do to a subpar idea is keep it alive. Imagine your family has a cat. It's 15 years old, blind, incontinent, and you find more hair on the couch than on its body every day. Sad, right? Sure, you've had 14.5 amazing years with the ole sack-o-flees but at this point, keeping it alive is borderline inhumane. In the wild, that cat would be so dead already. So just do the right thing, stop pumping the poor furball full of medication that keeps it barely breathing and just let it die.
Now imagine that cat is an idea. At first, you were psyched. You opened up your brain box and this beauty leaped out at you with so many legs it may as well have been a freakin octopus. But as the minutes, hours, days, weeks, God forbid months, go by, that octopus starts to look more like a snake. And you think,
"we can turn this around. We just need to come at it from another angle. We just need to sleep on it. We just need to-"
No. No you don't. And you shouldn't. Instead of trying to make a snake grow legs, your time would be better spent finding another octopus. Trust me. No matter how long you try to make it happen, a snake is never gonna grow legs, plus they're creepy. So, ya gotta kill it.
The tricky part is, snakes are sneaky. They have a way of deceiving you, making you believe they are something bigger and better than they are, and unlike the imaginary cat I made your family buy earlier, they don't want to die. It's your job, as its creator, to pull the proverbial plug.
But, how can you tell if your idea is a snake or an octopus? So glad you asked!
1. If you can't tell if your idea is a snake, it probably is.
A pretty good indication that an idea isn't working is doubt. And not just, "I'm not very good," typical (and normal) creative self-doubt. I'm talking big, bad wolf doubt. The kind that goes beyond execution to the strategy as a whole. If you don't think it's awesome, it's probably not.
2. If you have to over explain your idea, it's probably a snake.
The idea should speak for itself, and not in a Book of Genesis temptation way.
3. If your teammates are sick of working on it, and borderline sick of working with you, it's probably a snake.
I mean... #sorrynotsorry
4. If it makes you cry, it's probably a snake.
"No idea is worth your tears, but once you find one that is, it won't make you cry." - CD Eisenhower
5. If you are relying on cool technology, strategic placement or other executional devices, it's probably a snake.
Unique, weird, crazy executions are awesome. But unless they are developed out of one hell of an octopus, they will just fall flat.
The most important thing to remember through all of this is good ideas always survive. If there is even a nugget of octopus in that snake you just murdered, it will find it's way back into your brain box. You just gotta keep it open.
Peace, Love & Snake Murder