Ideas Are Like Love

By Shari Storm

As I was half joking that my credit union always likes an idea far better before we’ve tried to implement it, it occurred to me that ideas are much like love.

Some credit unions find one idea they love (serve a group of people with good service and low rates) and they marry it and have a long, monogamous relationship with it. Theirs is a bond that is faithful, strong and never changing.

Some credit unions fall on the other end of the spectrum. They are addicted to that rush of heady excitement you feel when you first meet a new idea. They are serial daters, meeting lots of ideas and never quite settling down with just one.  In order to meet their strategic goals, they race after the next big thing and place more credence in the idea they are trying tomorrow, rather than yesterday’s idea that they are doing today.

This leads me to my assertion that ideas are like love. When you first come up with an idea, the possibilities seem limitless. Working with that idea is fun and you enjoy its company very much. It isn’t until you start spending a lot of time with the idea and introducing it to others that you realize it has its faults.

And like relationships, the life of an idea often takes the same path as relationships.

There’s that idea that withers due to neglect

It seemed like a great idea when you sat around the table and came up with it. Everyone liked it and left the meeting feeling good about life. But the group assigned to making the idea a reality didn’t meet soon enough and by the time they did, everyone had kinda lost that lovin’ feeling and nobody quite remembered why they were assigned to do this new thing.  And like some relationships do, the idea just faded until there was nothing left of it.

And then you have your dysfunctional idea

That’s the idea that not everyone on the team loves. So when things get rough during implementation, a few people will shake their heads knowingly and mutter, “I told you so.” Those same people make no attempt to help the idea get off the ground and if it ever does, it’s hard to prove to the naysayers that the idea is any good – no matter the results.

And the blind love idea

This is the idea that people hold on to until the bitter end, and sometimes even after. You loved the idea so much and you put so much effort into making it grow, that when it turns out to be no good, nobody can cut the ties to it.

Like love, good ideas need certain ingredients to thrive:

  • Good communication – Someone needs to be the MIS (Make It So) Leader and ensure that everyone knows what is going on. Consistently tell people why are we doing what you’re doing and how you are doing it. 
  • Commitment to see it through – The MIS Leader needs to keep momentum up and keep distractions at bay. Don’t let a good idea wither on the vine.
  • Passion – No good idea thrives without passion. In my experience, the more people are passionate about the success of an idea, the better chance that idea has.
  • Exit strategy – Someone needs to be responsible for knowing when to call it quits. If an idea isn’t working, eventually you need to divorce yourself from it. Know how and when you will make that decision before embarking on each new idea relationship.

Shari Storm is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Verity Credit Union and is the author of the book “Motherhood is the New MBA”, available here:


2 thoughts on “Ideas Are Like Love

  1. Good ideas. I’d add an additional perspective:

    Ideas, like love, aren’t static. Love blossoms, blooms, displays, gives joy, provides a sense of security, and, yes, even turns brown, withers and dies.

    Your ideas, and all the ideas that make up the collective character of the credit union, are much the same. Each idea needs analysis, support, tweeking, modification, feedback in order to either grow and blossom, or wither and die. A static idea is useless, unless it is subject to the factors that keep it alive.

    There’s nothing worse than the CEO coming back from a conference and grabbing the SKY magazine (or whatever the zine is for the particular airline), reading an article about management or technology, taking his or her pen and writing “This is great–implement!” across the top of the page and handing it to staff the next morning.

    This is a static idea, probably lacking support, not given a chance to morph to fit the corporate psyche of the credit union. The odds of success are a hair from nil.

    You want your credit union to flourish from ideas that are alive–just a you want your love relationships to be alive.

  2. @ Ken – I love your example. It is so true. “Selling” ideas to other people is a lot like courting. Often, you have to take it slow and prove yourself (and your idea) and a series of different ways.

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