Taking an Idea from Good to Great
It’s sometimes hard to tell what can take your idea from good to great, but we know that difference is a game changer. This week, Tamsen breaks down the two things that get in the way of an amazing Red Thread: fear and baby steps.
There are a lot of really good talks that present a Problem that boils down to “fear,” and a change that is some version of “take baby steps.” The thing is, you don’t want to be good, you want to be great. And a great idea has three key qualities.
- Clarity: people understand it intuitively.
- Defensibility: the big idea makes sense in a way that stands up to scrutiny.
- Differentiation: it’s different from what’s already out there, it’s pushed past the first easy answer.
If you want to take your talk from good to great, you need to move beyond the standard answers. We look how you can use the three universal questions— Why?, What?, and How?— to craft a message that will resonate with everybody.
There are two things getting in the way of your Red Thread being amazing. What are they? Fear and baby steps. I’m Tamsen Webster, of tamsenwebster.com, and that’s what we’re talking about this week on Find The Red Thread.
Let’s say you found the Red Thread of your big idea and now you want to know, well, is it good or is it great? I’m going to guess you’re going for great. So, let’s talk about two quick things to spot to see where you are in that goodness versus greatness scale.
Here’s the first question you can ask yourself: Is the problem that you’ve identified some version of fear, it’s fear that’s getting in the way of our goal? Second question to ask yourself: Is the change that you’ve identified, is it some version of “we need to take little baby steps in order to overcome that fear or get past it and get to our goal?”
Well, if you’ve answered yes to either of those questions, we need to fix that. Not because there is anything wrong with a talk that’s based on fear and baby steps. In fact, there’s lots of really good talks and really good ideas based on those two core concepts, fear and baby steps. But I’m guessing you really want to be great.
You want your idea to really stand out from everyone else’s. Maybe that’s because you’re a speaker and you want to command bigger fees or bigger stages, or maybe even make it a TEDx. Or maybe you’re a marketer and you want to make sure that what you are all about is identifiably different than what other people are offering. And that’s the clue to the thing that we have to understand in order to solve fear and baby steps.
And this is it: an idea, a really great idea, has three key qualities. First, it’s clear. People understand it and they understand it intuitively. They don’t have to figure out what it means, they just get it. Second, it’s defensible, that idea, the big idea, the Red Thread of it makes sense and it makes sense in a way that can stand up to poking and prodding at the intellectual pieces. And, in fact, that you can stand up and be poked and prodded (not literally, of course), as a person talking about that idea; that you are defensible with that idea as well. And the third quality that a great idea has is that it’s differentiated in some way; it’s different from what else is already out there. It’s pushed past what most people do. Past the first easy answer to the pieces of the Red Thread.
So, how do we get past this? Well, the answer lies in using something you already know, and that’s those three universal questions that humans need to have answered for things to make sense. What are those three things, again? Well, the first one is why. Why is this such a problem, why is this happening? Why is it worthwhile?
The second is, what now? What do I need to understand now? Now what happens? What do I need to know now? What change in worldview do I need to have now?
And the third one is, how. How does this happen? When it’s successful, how does it look? How can I do this myself? You can use those three questions to look at your fear and baby steps and push them past good to great.
So, for example, look at fear. Instead of just saying fear’s the problem, explain why is fear the problem. What does it blind you to? Or, what does it keep people from doing? Alternatively, you can say, “Well, where’s the fear coming from?” Maybe it’s deeper than fear, maybe it’s coming from something else. Or maybe you can identify something about fear itself that we don’t understand, which is why we can’t get past it.
With baby steps, you can also think about that. And in terms of the same universal questions, why do those baby steps matter? What do I need to understand about them that will change my worldview now? In other words, take all of those little baby steps and roll them all up and figure out what is the big shift, the big change, that you’re asking people to make. Because baby steps is a tactic. It’s not a change in how people see the world. So figure out what those baby steps that you’re recommending really represent. And when you do that, you’re going to move your big idea from good to great.
If you need more help figuring out what your Red Thread is, go to findyourredthread.com and download the Red Thread worksheet. If you have any questions or want more help working on your Red Thread, let me know at tamsenwebster.com/contact.