Step 6 Gather Your Inner Sanctum

So you've got your idea, expanded it, articulated it, and checked it with yourself. Now you need to pass it by a few close friends or colleagues. Try to pick a time when they are relaxed and receptive. At work this is much easier said than done; so it is probably best scheduled after hours.

For your sounding board, select people with relevant experience, potential users, and programmers.

Explain your concept briefly, cite its advantages, outline the way it fits with existing products. Then sit back, listen very carefully to what they say, and take notes. You will probably want to embody some of their ideas. Try not to interrupt until they have finished; otherwise you'll be tampering with the evidence.

If your previous surmises are sound, your quorum will probably confirm them, though almost certainly you will want to make some beneficial adjustments.

People with new ideas are a lot more secretive than they probably needed to be with hindsight. However, at this stage this is the smart policy. You can always let the genie out of the bottle later, but you can never put him back. Only discuss your idea with close, trusted friends and colleagues on a strictly confidential basis. If you do need to show the idea to people outside your inner sanctum, such as technical specialists for appraisal purposes, get them to sign a confidentiality agreement first. You only want your idea to enter the public domain when you're ready to put it there.

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