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Add Some Distance to Your Proposed New Idea

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Have a new idea to improve performance at your practice? See if you can find a way to present it as coming from far away, like an Icelandic design firm, a best-selling French business consultant or an innovative Argentinean ECP association … and not inspired by a suggestion from your spouse (which may actually have been the case). A recent study by the U.S. management scholar Jennifer Mueller found that when an idea is presented as originating from a great distance, people picture it in the abstract: they grasp the gist, focus on the end goal, and appreciate the ingenuity. When it’s described as coming from nearby, they zoom in on detailed impracticalities and imagine all the potential problems. It’s why employees (and friends) will listen sympathetically to an outside consultant’s ideas, or something they found in a book, but if it comes from you … they only see reasons it won’t work.

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