I have this cool idea, but I don’t know if I should share it with people yet

Paranoia Snowball


The Context

Mezrich's book about the poor kid from the streets who claws his way into the frenetic world of the oil exchange, offers numerous business principles worth implementing. One in particular caught my attention, and it has to do with containment and momentum. Here's the advice. Keep your mouth shut. Don’t mention the project again until it’s too late for anyone to stop it from happening. The longer you can go before anyone knows what you’re up to, the better.

The Tool

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Paranoia Snowball

PARANOIA SNOWBALL — Working quietly and quickly to keep your idea contained until it’s strong enough to roll on its own

The greatest benefit of this approach is, you're never slowed down by people's fears. Including your own. There's not enough time to answer questions, accept feedback, make excuses or analyze things. You just go. People on the team look up from their screens one day and think, okay then, guess we're doing this thing now. Damn right we are. Compare that to the more democratic approach, which is to try and get the consensus of the whole team before making a move. That rarely works out. If most people stopped to step back and reflect on how difficult and complicated and scary the journey might turn out to be, they never would have made the first leap.

Thinking back to my many own experience at agencies and startups, there were many failed projects that might have been game changers for the companies I worked for. But my mistake was the lack of containment. My ideas were ultimately trashed because they hadn't gathered enough momentum yet. They hadn't reached the point of no return. There was still enough time for anyone to stop the projects from happening.

The Rest

How skilled are you at the art of containment? If you have a new idea that you want to realize within your organization, swear yourself to secrecy. Get that paranoia snowball rolling down the hill. Tell the minimum amount of people you need to build momentum, and don't let ego or fear trap you into spilling the beans too early. Work as quietly as you can, as quickly as you can, for as long as you can. And when the time comes to socialize your idea to the broader team, trust that people will be so inspired by the momentum you've generated, that instead of trying to derail you, they'll jump onto your train of thought and enjoy the ride. All aboard. What if you didn't mention your project until it was too late for anyone to stop it from happening?

The Benefits

Protect yourself from unhelpful feedback and external fears
Feel the sparkle of delight behind your eyes knowing you have a secret
Gather enough momentum around your project that people can’t resist its power
Increase the likelihood of attracting support from team members who will help take your idea to the next level

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