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  • Writer's pictureRyan Liddle

Are you using the <60% Rule?

Something from nothing

A few years back, I was reading a lot about creating ideas and how to push through the molasses to see them come to life. I read a book by Scott Belsky called Making Ideas Happen (follow the link to his TedX talk). There are so many messages in this book that have resonated with me. With what I do, I have so many ideas. Coming up with ideas has never been a problem, that is why many organisation utilise Think Different Anyday, to help them generate more ideas. With this book, it gave great insight into those that seem to get more of their ideas out of their heads and into real life. He told a story about Seth Godin, an individual that I admire, where he asked why Seth seems to have a higher rate of success with more of his ideas that come to life (compared to others). Seth's comment to this was very simple – I ship it! There is a short video of Seth talking about this mindset – Ship or Die.

From my understanding and putting it together with other pieces of inspiration, I started to deploy the '60% rule' in the way that I was working. My cornerstone approach within this is, don't let anything get beyond 60% before I show someone else. As a creative (at heart), I took enormous satisfaction from producing wonderful and beautiful pieces of work, even if it was a simple PowerPoint for a meeting. So learning how to let it go early was a real challenge.

Ok, so we know the solution, what might hold us back from applying it? If it makes sense to do get ideas out there sooner, why isn’t everyone doing it? I think there are 2 main things at play and getting over these puts us on the way to getting more things done.

The first is FEAR.

We are afraid that our idea isn’t good enough, pretty enough, clear enough, big enough, ready yet. So we hold onto it, just a little longer. That way we will perfect it and everyone will love it.

The second is PRIDE.

How good does it feel when you create something, by yourself and everyone loves it. If it is a great idea, sharing it may only dilute this achievement.

When fear and pride are lingering around ideas, we may tend to hold onto them longer. This can have the opposite effect to the drivers behind the same emotion, ensuring failure rather than protecting their success.

My tips on combating these two strong emotional responses, are simple in nature yet will take conscious thought or other people to hold you accountable to the behavioural change required.

1. Calm the fear, let go sooner:
Progress, move forward! Don't wait, put it out there.

We ultimately have a limited capacity with the amount of ideas that we can work on at any one time. Therefore we need to find an easy way to prioritise the good and the less than good. Tommes Snels applies the same approach and discusses it in his blog on changing your not-so-valuable habits, the ones that are probably be holding you back. Letting go sooner, seeking feedback early, we remain Open. Our minds are more open to change the less defined something is. When we are open, we protect and defend less. In this mode we will kill off bad ideas sooner, pivot good ideas easier and accelerate great ideas. The higher the ambiguity, the more blurry the idea is, with more inexactness there is more openness.

2. Swallow your pride, collaborate earlier:
A shared idea is a better idea with a chance to grow.

When we intersect with others, our ideas become so much more. We add new perspectives, they grow and flourish. Clarity in our messages comes from sharing and explaining. From collaboration, we will find sharper messages. Through sharing our ideas, we find new ways to explain the idea, creating a more efficient and effective pitch.

What do I do now? The 60% has become 5 %. With my art, I’ve started blogging about my artworks that are in progress, talking to my audience as I’m in the process of creating – scary, but an engaging way for them to engage with the process. Within my business ventures, I now build teams around ideas as soon as they start to form. From a simple few pages of my brain download, I engage others in what the idea might be so that we build it together. This means I get to work on many ideas at the same time, creating energy through the many people I get to interact with on them. As a noble prize winner (twice) said:

The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.

Linus Pauling

Challenge yourself, your teams, your organisation, take up the 60% challenge. Ship it, collaborate and let ideas flourish far earlier than you ever thought possible. Apply to the smallest tasks and the most audacious projects. Apply it with your customers, your suppliers. You get validation sooner and find the right ideas to invest in.


Ryan Liddle is a Designer, Leader, Creative, Transformer, Speaker, Disruptor and Executive. Help organisations find opportunities and solve complex problems through leveraging design and systematic approaches to think differently. His consultancy, Think Different Anyday, provides services to leading organisations across many industries, to transform and grow.

More on thinking differently:

See artwork here:

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