“Every time I’m asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement I see a huge red flag pop out that says Warning!”
Rob Adams has likely listened to as many new business ideas as anyone on the planet, and one of his first tips for entrepreneurs is to never tell a potential investor you’ve got an original idea.
“Wake up,” he says, “Good ideas are not scarce, they are a dime a dozen.” If you don’t believe so, Adams suggests an online search of key words describing your idea. “You’ll find ten companies doing it, or thinking of doing it. You can drive yourself nuts searching for a unique idea, but that is not the point.”
The point, as he describes in his book A Good Hard Kick in the Ass, is execution intelligence, the ability to compose a team that can operationally execute a business plan with sustainability, flexibility and resilience, to dominate rather than define a market space.
Why Investors Hate the Nondisclosure
“Every time I’m asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement I see a huge red flag pop out that says Warning!” Adams asserts. “It screams out, ‘I’m stuck on my idea,’ it means you’ve spent too much energy obsessing about the idea and probably haven’t thought enough about the team, which is what the investor is really interested in. It implies you haven’t given much thought to your customers, or to the market.”
Getting to market first with a new idea doesn’t mean anything in Adams’ experience. “Netscape’s browser was out long before Microsoft Explorer,” he recalls. “Creating a new category does not necessarily spell success, but I can think of plenty of businesses that entered an existing category and proceeded to stomp all those roaches to pieces.”
“These strategies open the door to tangible progress, even though it will be slow and messy.”
Environment and energy policy expert Dr. David G. Victor has been on the front lines of global environmental diplomacy for more than twenty years, so your ears perk up when he says, “The effect of all environmental treaties is nearly zero, and it’s time we seriously asked the question, ‘Is climate too hard to solve?’”
If you’ve been involved in breaking gridlock and solving problems you’ll almost certainly empathize with Victor’s frustration. Problems may seem unsolvable, particularly when motivations, authority and resources are not aligned, as in international emissions negotiations.
In the face of such constraints, how can you break the gridlock?
Reframe the Approach, And Your Definition of Success
Victor finds no surprise in the lack of progress made on global emissions. “Progress on climate requires governments to do things governments have a hard time doing,” he acknowledges. “There are high upfront costs with uncertain long-term results; and as industrial growth and emissions evolve across the globe, the natural leaders on climate issues change.”
He suggests a four-point approach for breaking gridlock that can work in any complex organization.