The Worst Advice Ever Given

Unfortunately, it’s also probably the most common.

The business world is full of bad advice, but in my opinion, none is quite so bad as the admonition that precedes every brainstorming session: 

“There’s no such thing as a bad idea.” 

That’s got to be the worst advice ever. Because I’ve learned that the opposite is true. All ideas are bad. In fact, I’d say there’s no such thing as a good idea.

Saying there is no such thing as a bad idea isn’t just wrong; it’s dangerous. Assuming that all ideas are good encourages hundreds of hours of wasted effort studying the problem, writing plans, putting together task forces, etc.—all without any feedback from the real world about whether it’s actually a good idea or not.

Our job as entrepreneurs is to take those (bad) ideas and figure out a quick, cheap, and easy way to find out why they are bad. That’s the only way to begin the process of testing and iteration that—if we’re lucky—will eventually bring us to something that works.

I can’t think of a single successful company that has become successful doing their original idea. Instead, the original idea was only a starting point. They took that idea, figured out some cheap, quick, and easy way to try it, watched what happened…and then tried something else. And probably did that for years.

At Netflix, it took us more than 18 months and hundreds of failed experiments to finally land on the business model that was a good idea. And they are still experimenting.

So next time you have an idea, stop thinking about whether it’s good or bad and instead start thinking about the quick, cheap, and easy steps you’re going to take to find out for yourself.

That’s the only way to know for sure.


A version of this originally appeared here

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