My son taught me a very important lesson this week. He was playing with his toys the way 2-year olds do, pushing and pulling things that aren't meant to be pushed and pulled, mashing every button out of order and generally using them in ways not originally intended. There was nothing wrong with the way he was playing, he wasn't sticking things in light sockets or trying to eat them, but I found myself saying “that's not how you play with these toys,” and trying to correct him. As an experienced toy-player myself I was calling his approach wrong because it didn't fit into my experience.
This kind of thing happens in business all the time. Often fresh ideas meet with resistance. “It won't work,” “that's impossible,” “no one else does it,” “it's too expensive.” The list goes on ad infinitum. According to most people, new and unfamiliar approaches don't stand a chance.
Here's the kicker
Later that day my son was playing with my iPhone. I watched him skipping through songs on the music player in a way I didn't know about. I noticed that when he long-pressed the buttons on the headphones, the music skipped ahead a track. Now, I knew you could fast-forward with a short-press but I'd never noticed you could skip tracks this way. A 2-year old just showed me how to use a feature that I've missed in every iteration of the iPhone since its release and I felt absurd for thinking it was my job to tell someone else how to play with their toys.
Don't let the past dictate the future. Don't be afraid to try new things. We learn by doing not by guessing about how things might turn out. Will the Great Idea fail? Maybe. But then you'll learn something about what not to do next time.
Never let anyone tell you how to play with your toys.