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  • Writer's pictureJake Breeden

Last-Minute Lightbulbs: When Great Ideas Spark Disaster

We've all been there. You're on the precipice of a big presentation, a product launch, or even a dinner party, and suddenly a brilliant idea strikes. Maybe it's a flashy new website feature, an impromptu menu addition, or a last-minute marketing blitz. While the urge to implement these "bright ideas" can be strong, it often leads to more stress than success.

There's a reason for that. Often, these late-stage changes stem from nervous energy. We get close to the finish line and second-guess ourselves. It's tempting to think a dramatic shift will be the magic bullet, but it rarely is. Think of a golfer who decides to tweak their swing right before a major tournament. Practice sessions on the driving range are the time for experimentation, not when the stakes are high. The practice range is for thinking, but the course is for swinging. 

The bigger issue with last-minute brilliance is that it throws a wrench into the system. The original plan, no matter how ordinary it seemed, likely involved weeks or months of preparation. Scrambling to implement a new idea disrupts that meticulously crafted workflow, leading to errors, missed deadlines, and ultimately, a higher chance of failure.

Here's the kicker: we never get to see how the original, "boring" plan would have worked.  Maybe the website launch would have been a success without the flashy feature. Perhaps the investors would have been happier with the pre-prepared presentation. There's no way to know for sure if the last-minute change truly made a difference, or simply created chaos.

So, how do we channel our inner innovator without creating havoc? Embrace more divergent thinking earlier in the process, and converge as you get closer to launch. Brainstorm wildly, experiment with different approaches, and refine your strategy well before "go" time.  This allows you to test, iterate, and iron out any potential kinks before they cause a system meltdown. 

And if you, like me, tend to come up with your best thinking when the stakes feel highest: raise the stakes during the preparation phase. Have a dress rehearsal of the main event with plenty of time before the real deal, and let the good ideas flow. 

It's during the glorious epoch of project plans and dry runs that you can unleash your inner Da Vinci without causing an existential crisis for the entire team. A well-practiced plan is far more likely to succeed than a last-minute divergent and disruptive scramble.  

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