Idea Friendly doesn’t mean you have to add anything new

An old-fashioned committee meeting of men around a table
If we could get rid of some of the Old Way of doing things, we’d be able to do more Idea Friendly things.


When we talk about doing things the Idea Friendly way, you might think I’m asking you to do a lot of new things. I’m not. You’re doing plenty now, maybe more than enough. And you have the tools you need, right there in that phone in your hand. You just need to shift some key behaviors.

Every time someone proposes doing things with an Old Way behavior, you can suggest  a new Idea Friendly behavior instead. It can be as simple as saying, “Imagine IF….” and then telling about the Idea Friendly way. (“IF” is the abbreviation for Idea Friendly, so now every time you say “if” you’re reminding yourself of your new way to do things.)


Old way: Formal

Committees, action teams, task forces, officers, meetings, agendas, minutes, reports

Idea Friendly way: Informal

Get-togethers, self-organized crowds, action, doing things


Old way: Few

Officials, appointments, selections, the usual people, the old guard

Idea Friendly way: Crowd

Lots of people, everyone, anyone who wants to, deliberately reaching different groups


Old way: Control

Issuing orders, commands, announcements, requiring permission, regulations, permits, follow-ups, accountability, penalties

Idea Friendly way: Chaos

Trying, acting, talking, duplicating, starting, stopping, retrying, repeating, learning, doing without permission, pay the fine and do it anyway


Old way: Isolated

Closed meetings, back rooms, inconvenient times and places, gatekeepers, qualifications, prerequisites, requirements

Idea Friendly way: Connected

Out and present in the community, participating, listening, involving, accepting


Old way: Decide

Vote, pick winners, eliminate choices, streamline, be efficient, one “best” way

Idea Friendly way: Test

Experiment, test, try, fail, succeed, partly fail, learn, revise, give up on some things, get better through experience


Old way: BIG

Large projects, big costs, hard to do, long term, difficult to stop, the bigger they are the harder they fall

Idea Friendly way: small

Tiny businesses, small steps, little failures, small successes, easy to do, short term, easy to quit if not working


Old way: Failure is bad

Hide failures, don’t talk about them, be embarrassed, remind people of their failures to shame them

Idea Friendly way: Failure is good

Learn from small failures, celebrate good tries, look for lessons, let things go quickly that aren’t working


Start by moving just a few things from the Old Way to the Idea Friendly Way. Instead of voting, run some tests. Try not keeping minutes, and let things happen. Swap out a boring meeting for a fun action session. Don’t hold a meeting to talk about wanting to be a cleaner town when you could go sweep some sidewalks and tag it #CleanYourOwnSidewalkDay on Instagram.

Practice saying, “Imagine IF that didn’t matter, and we could do ________ instead.” You’ll be reminding yourself of Idea Friendly and easing other people into a new way of behaving.

It will take a long time to revolutionize your town, but you’ll start seeing and feeling results immediately.