Pitch Your Idea as Somewhat New

The High Concept Pitch

Give Me Something New…But Not Too New

This article in the Atlantic discusses a potential bias in experts to reject creative ideas.

My favorite connection here is to the “high-concept pitch.” To sell an idea, make it the “right level” of new: somewhat new, but not too new (regardless of how new it actually is).

In Hollywood, the “high-concept pitch” offers a useful example. Film producers, like NIH scientists, have to evaluate hundreds of ideas a year, but can only accept a tiny percentage. To grab their attention, writers often frame original ideas as a fresh combination of existing ideas. “It’s Groundhog Day meets War of the Worlds!” or “It’s Transformers on the ocean!” In Silicon Valley, where venture capitalists also shift through a surfeit of proposals, the culture of the high-concept pitch is vibrant (Airbnb was once eBay for homes; Uber, Lyft, and Zipcar were all once considered Airbnb for cars; now, people want Uber for everything).

This article makes me like the Silicon Valley practice of the “high-concept pitch” a little more. The problem with it is that it’s intellectually flaccid… but I can see how this helps to put new ideas, regardless of how new they really are, right into the sweet spot of “the right level of newness.”

This article is part of the email series, The Leader’s Brief. You can subscribe for email updates at www.theleadersbrief.com.

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