Communicating and deciding on ideas

I recently moved to Los Angeles and launched Contrarian Labs with my co-founder Val. 

As an early-stage company, we are constantly coming up with new ideas. But with so many ideas, how do we decide on what to do? 

For the first few months, it was easy. Val and I would get together to brainstorm and the "coolest" ideas won. We magically agreed on everything. It was the perfect partnership!

But this all changed when we starting thinking harder about building a sustainable business. The ideas were no longer cool and fun. They became forced and awkward in their attempts to justify and monetize. Decisions were no longer so easy.

And for the first time, discussions started to get heated.

We found ourselves talking past each other and getting defensive rather than listening. It wasn't until we found ourselves arguing about the exact same idea for the fourth time that we knew we had to do something differently.

We realized that laziness was at the core of the problem. It's lazy to brainstorm ideas so that others can do the hard thinking for you. It's lazy to blame someone's lack of excitement on their inability to understand rather than to put in the work to build a better case.

So we've decided that going forward, ideas must be written down prior to engaging in serious discussion. This helps to ensure that:

  1. Everyone is literally on the same page
  2. The author has taken time to think through an idea prior to involving other people's time
  3. We only spend significant time on ideas we really care about since all other ideas will either not be written up at all or won't get very far past the write-up stage

Sure, it takes time to write and present ideas in an organized fashion. But I believe this is time well-spent because each hour invested in thoughtful communication will likely save many hours in wasted communication.