Adam Grant, in his new book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World writes about the necessity of anchoring new ideas in familiar things.
To generate creative ideas, it’s important to start from an unusual place. But to explain those ideas, they have to be connected to something familiar. That’s why so many startups are introducing themselves as the ‘Uber for X’.
It’s why when writers pitch a movie to a producer or studio they often cast it as “this movie-that-you-know meets this other-movie-you-know.” It’s a new movie, so you have to convince a potential audience why they should pay attention. A star you already know. A comic book franchise with familiar characters. A new take on a well-worn story or genre. New is good, but it has to be anchored with something familiar.
Over years of pitching ideas, I’ve developed a version of this that I call the One New Thing Rule. People love the idea of something new, they really do. Two something news they really can’t do.
A new thing can be seductive, but to consider it requires an adjustment in what you already know. People will make the leap if, as Grant observes, you give them something familiar to contextualize it with. But then stop. Trying to get someone to make a second leap is difficult. In fact, it usually untethers the first new idea from its moorings and you’ve lost the case you might already have won.