A Thoughtful Approach To Criticism

by Jack Sommer

There are certain words that get a harsh rep. "Criticism" is one of them. Often, people think of criticism as negative. They take offense to being offered it. However, the word doesn't have to be deemed that way. In a recent article for the Harvard Business Review, author Roberto Verganti wrote about this issue. How criticism is less about bringing down ideas, but rather improving them. You take in multiple points of view, question your assumptions, analyze the contrasting elements, and brainstorm new interpretations of the topic at hand. 

"This is a significant departure from the ideation processes of the past decade, which treat criticism as undesirable—something that stifles creativity. Whereas ideation suggests deferring judgment, the art of criticism innovates through judgment," says Verganti. He gives several specific examples, one being the case of Nest and the story with their founders. Initially, one of the partners proposed an idea for a "Smart Home" and the other dismissed it. However, instead of them letting the dialogue halt there, a different solution was able to be reached after more discussion. They decided to narrow their brand and attention, to start off, on just a thermostat. And it has paid off, with Nest growing very popular. This would have never happened without criticism.

Both people and companies alike should not only be unafraid of criticism, but instead embrace it. We should all want to have our ideas be criticized while we're developing them so they can became stronger and more refined. And the manner and tone of how you deliver the message often makes all the difference. You catch more bees with honey...

The full-length original article can be found on Harvard Business Review.