What To Do When Your Client’s Idea Won’t Work

When Your Client's Idea Won't WorkThere are three types of ridiculous ideas out there:

  1. Ideas that would absolutely not work – ever.
  2. Ideas that are extremely unlikely to work for whatever reason.
  3. Ideas that you cannot comprehend and may be brilliant given the right context.

Examples of Ridiculous Ideas

  • Jumping off a skyscraper with no parachute or a glider or some gear that would save you.
  • Building a commodity that would suddenly get traction and generate millions within the next 3 months.
  • Coming up with some weird invention that seems impractical – unless you happen to have access to the right audience that would kill for it.

Some outright insane ideas are probably best explained with scientific proof and the right data in place. Using statistics would be a good way to showcase some patterns and the likelihood of something impossible to happen.

However, statistics could be deceiving. For instance, 100% of the people who pass away have been drinking water throughout their lifetime. Does that make water poisonous?

In 2008, I took a couple of certification courses on risk management. The practical exercises required a set of “games” that aimed to analyze risk and protect a system or a building from whatever could happen – even things that seemed extremely unlikely. We got creative with attack scenarios by dragons and aliens, global earthquakes, or the next Ice Age.

Over the course of the next year, the main national Internet provider was offline for 5 hours due to some nearly impossible glitch in their hardware that crashed 24 simultaneous redundancy disks which is nearly 0,0000000000000001% likely to happen. A few months later, the earliest national online media built in 1991 was set on fire at the same time when their main backup warehouse caused an electricity interruption that overheated their storage. They lost 60% of the data stored for nearly 2 decades.

If you’re genuinely interested in helping out, spend some time on industry research and provide objective and arguable data. Help your boss or client to understand the implications of their decision or the risks of their venture. If they’re willing to pursue the goal, let them go – at least it would be an informed decision. It may as well work – while it’s unlikely to happen, it’s not absolutely impossible.