Never lose a good idea
A pop quiz for student media leaders: How many really good ideas did you hear last week? Are you sure you remember all of them? Now a harder question: What happened to those ideas?
And what about all the ideas that got floated in, say, the last month?
There are two things you can do quickly to bring more of those good ideas into reality. One is a simple system; the other is a simple attitude that seems to elude too many editors.
In a former life, I became the editor for a small group of experienced reporters at a big newspaper. They were a bit surprised when I showed up for our first one-of-one meetings with a reporter’s notebook. I had one for each reporter. In our weekly meetings I wrote down every idea they brought up. And as the weeks went by, I paged back through the notebook and said, “Hey, I really liked that idea about X. How’s that going?”
So Tip No. 1 is create a system. It can be as simple as a notebook or as involved as an online idea “budget.” But make sure all ideas get recorded somewhere, and that the right people regularly revisit them.
Now why were those experienced reporters surprised by my little notebook? Because they’d grown accustomed to editors who just wanted to hear what they would produce this week, preferably with as little discussion as possible. The idea that someone else might help them push their ideas into the paper was startling.
The journalists in your newsrooms haven’t had time to grow quite that world-weary (I hope). But your attitude matters. If all the great ideas in your newsroom or department are your ideas, something is wrong — either with your judgment or with a newsroom atmosphere that isn’t tapping everyone’s imagination.
So Tip No. 2 is to love other’s people ideas. Make sure you’re regularly saying “I love it!” So what if the idea is half-baked? If there’s a germ of a good idea in there, the response is “I love it! And have you thought about XYZ?”
Here’s a challenge: Resolve to adopt someone else’s good idea in the next week and nurture it until it’s published. And then figure out how to do it again as often as possible.