Judgment Curve


People come up with ideas.

Other people then judge those ideas.

The speed at which judgments are made is often a function of how novel the idea is.

Understanding this natural reflex can aid in keeping an open mind, and not missing great ideas by judging them too early.

The judgment curve


Imagine someone comes up with a novel Idea, with few or no substitutes:

You: “I’m going to do a time travel startup!”

Them: “Wow that’s a great idea! Tell me more!” (Positive judgment)
… or …
Them: “You’re crazy, that’s an awful idea.” (Negative judgment)

Positive or negative, you are going to elicit some immediate judgment with an idea like that.

Now imagine someone comes up with an idea which is not novel, and has many substitutes:

You: “I’m going open a restaurant!”

Them: “Really? Where?” (Neutral)

You: “Oxford Circus”

Them: “… ok, Central London near a tube stop. Plenty of foot traffic, what kind of restaurant?” (Still neutral)

You: “Pizza”

Them: “… cool, people love pizza. Isn’t there already a pizza restaurant there?” (Still neutral)

You: “Yes but this is lower price”

Them: “… Ok, so yours is a lower priced competitor. Sounds like a great idea!” (Positive judgment)

Why does it matter?

Often the best ideas are the most novel.

Therefore the best ideas may also be the most likely to be shot down before others have had a chance to properly think about them.

When validating whether an idea is good, the knowledge that the aim is a 0 to 1 idea could push the prospective founder up the validation curve, resulting in discounting an idea too early.

Furthermore, knowledge that the “best ideas” have only a simple description results in early validation, causing rejection at the point of “restaurant app” or “marketing CRM”, despite the endless possibilities within these spaces.

The Startup Advantage

As a startup, you are likely to have fewer internal stakeholders than your larger competitors. As such, the amount of judgment (and friction) per big idea is lower.

Executing big ideas quickly will compound an already sizeable and free edge a startup has over its larger competitors.

Use it.

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