Suggestion for Twitter & discussions

(and other discussion platforms)

I think a good use of AI would be to to highlight logical fallacies.

Like Community Notes, this could be an add-on to a comment. It would detail the fallacies contained in the comment, why they are fallacies and why they do not productively add to the dialogue.

I would also suggest, as a general rule of discussion, the first to use a fallacy loses. Or, score could be kept by keeping tabs on good points and fallacies.

A popular fallacy I’ve seen on Twitter of late is a combination of two fallacies: a personal attack (ad hominem) and changing the subject (red herring). It goes something like, “You appear to have a reading comprehension problem. I must be talking to an idiot. Have a nice day.”

I call this a combo fallacy because it’s a personal attack, but also designed to change the subject from the topic at hand to whether the person has a reading comprehension problem and to end the discussion with the user of it feeling they have won.

This doesn’t score points with me. If you feel your discussion partner misread something, simply point out what they misread.


An anti-dote to talking in circles

I need to remember the anti-dote for getting out of circular discussion. I’ve found myself in a few of these lately and forgot to pull the rip cord.

These discussions typically go something like:

“I think we should make this new product. It ties together clever insight #1 and clever insight #2, so it is sure to work!” (Please pat me on the back for my clever thinking!)

“What about about insight #3? Doesn’t that go against what you just said?”

“Well, I’m not sure that applies.”

Then, more back and forth and the circle continues. Nothing gets accomplished, except some folks might win some brownie points here or there from others for sounding like they presented a smarter case.

How do you pull the rip cord on circular discussions? Rather than try to counter, I encourage them to find a way to try and prove out their theory in the real world.

“That doesn’t sound like a bad idea. You never know until you try. What’s the minimal amount of effort you would need to do to see if would work in the real world?”

In other words, encourage them to put their money where their mouth is.

It can be funny at how quickly that can stop them. Just the mere thought of considering their idea standing the true test of reality can be enough to shake their confidence and cause them to consider that it might not be such a good idea after all.

It’s like watching someone trying to hold onto a deflating balloon. “Oh, it’s not my job to try out new ideas. That’s another group.” Or, “Well, we wouldn’t do it the way it ought to be done, anyway.” But, you can hear in their voice that they really liked the idea of having an idea a lot more than proving it out.

They liked the idea of having an untested idea that sounds good. They don’t want to let that go, even if they might learn something.

In one case, the idea was that the company hasn’t spent enough on marketing for awhile, so there’s a whole segment of potential customers out there that doesn’t even know about the product.

Instead of providing the counterpoint that the company has pulled back on marketing because it did not have a good ROI (which was true), I asked how they might prove that out? Can we pick a small market and design a marketing campaign to get a read on how many of those potential customers we could win?

They initially pushed back that one market wouldn’t be enough. Then, if we just tried it in one market, competitors would find out and copy it before we could benefit from it. It would have to be all or nothing and they slowly trailed off as they heard that the words coming out of their mouth were not making much sense.

But, sometimes, good things can happen. The conversation can shift, as it should, to devising creative ways to test the theory and to investigating the company’s history or competitor experiences that might provide some clues to how the idea would work in reality.

How people respond to ideas in your organization signals its innovation productivity

In organizations with anemic innovation cultures that produce little innovation that significantly changes the path the business is on, people reflexively reject ideas.

In healthier cultures, people are more likely to ask how can we can try the idea out and see if works? These cultures will have more innovative successes.

Here are a few ways anemic and healthy cultures deal with new ideas differently.

Anemic — Leaders need to buy into the new idea for it to be tried. Healthy — Leaders ask how would I know what will work? Try it and find out.

Anemic — We don’t have enough resources to try too many things at once. Healthy — How can we try lots things in small ways to learn something? Let’s get creative.

Anemic — Our systems can’t handle it. Healthy — Let’s learn about it and see if it’s worth changing our systems.

Anemic — We can’t risk putting products out that are not fully baked that might tarnish our brand and reputation. Healthy — Let’s explore strategies to minimize risks for putting out prototypes, like making it available in limited quantities, using a different brand name and letting customers know.

Anemic — We tried that before and it didn’t work. Healthy — Let’s review what we tried to see if there are new ways of looking at that experience based on recent learning or variations on the idea that might work better.

Anemic — Status earned by explaining why an idea won’t work. Healthy — Status earned by trying ideas and learning from them.

Anemic — Thinks it can beat the odds by being smart. Healthy — Plays the odds by trying lots of things on small scales in hopes a few will work out.

Anemic — Fierce competition for credit for the few ideas that get tried. Healthy — So many ideas are being tried, nobody needs to steal credit.

Anemic — People put distance between themselves and failures and learn nothing from them. Healthy — Failures are the norm and learning from them can lead to breakthroughs that works.

Anemic — Confuses small, marginal improvements of 1-3% bumps with innovation rather than seeing it as optimization. Healthy — Looking for game changers that can bump the needle 5%, 10%, 20% or 100% or more.

Anemic — Applies linear problem solving processes that serve well in optimizing existing operations to new ideas. Healthy — Uses creative problem solving to try new ideas.

Anemic — Settles on a single solution for new idea that will be rolled out before seeing if customers want it. Healthy — Tries various ways to solve the same problem on small scales to see if different variations work better than others.

Anemic — The current, leader-sponsored idea is going to work! It’s just great! We have to believe in it for it to be successful!


Consider your organization’s revenue trajectory over the past 10 years.

If it has largely been a function of external factors, like population growth or growth of the industry, you are probably in an organization that treats new ideas like the anemic culture described above. The future of the business is not in your company’s hands.

If you can point to a steady stream of moderate to big successes that have significantly altered the company’s revenue path from the industry around it, congratulations.