Use An Idea Embargo To Keep Focused

It's a week before a major project is due and suddenly someone comes up with a great idea. That great idea can derail the project and make delivery late. Use an idea embargo to keep the focus.

Photo by Jimmy Harris.

It sounds strange to suggest putting the lid on creative thought but that's exactly what you have to do sometimes to keep the focus strong on the ideas you've already had. Over at the productivity blog Work Awesome they suggest setting up a deadline during any project where new ideas will no longer be entertained for risk of stealing the focus from the already good ideas that had been selected:

But even so, the last-minute ideas can derail the most well run project. It's tough when someone ignores all your planning and work. Where were they when you planned this thing? Now that all the work is done, they want to tell you what you should have done. Implementing a last-minute idea or two could delay launch.

You know what I do? Enforce an idea embargo. While planning a project and creating a time line, I mark the day that no new ideas will be accepted. That's right. After that day, keep your great ideas to yourself because we have work to do.

I'm not advocating restricting people from contributing to your work. Encourage people to contribute early. The embargo is simply the last step in a series of communications. Seek lots of input. Early.

Obviously, and he notes this, huge changes can occur that require revisiting the brainstorming phase to save a project. In most cases however the last minute ideas defocus the team and take away energy from the current plan. Have your strong opinions about the planning process and whether or not an idea embargo would work in your workplace? Let's hear about it in the comments.

Stay on Track with an Idea Embargo [Work Awesome]


    I know this as "Feature Creep". We had a system during a University project where any Feature Creep would be written down and fleshed out by someone not doing any work (ie, in their spare time). Then, if the project was finished early, we would get it ready for release, but if there was time enough for an idea or two, they would get implemented.

    Where I used to work we called this the GICO line - the 'good idea cut off line'. Take the idea and add it to a list somewhere for consideration for a future release or something, letting us keep focused on finishing off the current workload. it worked well.

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