The Gatekeeper’s Dilemma: how do you recognise a good idea?

I recently posted a piece on an important but often overlooked question that innovators face: how do you recognise a good idea? Preview below – the rest of the entry is posted on our Creative Cultures blog.

On the day after New Year’s Eve, 1962, the nervous young band members and their manager entered the Decca Records studio to do an audition for a record contract. The manager had great confidence in the band’s potential, but he had trouble convincing the record labels to offer them a contract. In fact, the labels wouldn’t even give them an audition. He had only managed to get that day’s audition with Decca because he had privately contacted the record label and, without the band’s knowledge, offered to pay the cost of the audition out of his own pocket.

The tape that the band recorded that day, containing 15 songs, was sent to one of the record label’s producers, Dick Rowe. Rowe, an experienced professional with more than 20 years in the business, was known as a great talent spotter, and spent most of his time searching for new bands. After he had listened to the recording, Rowe contacted the manager, bringing bad news. Rowe was sorry; he did not think the band had commercial potential, and Decca would under no circumstances offer them a recording contract. He then made the statement that would become his public epitaph: “Guitar groups are on the way out, Mr. Epstein.”

If Brian Epstein hadn’t entered his life on that day in January, Dick Rowe would still be known to the world as a great and talented record producer. But after a fateful day, based on one rapid judgment call, all that was forgotten. After that day, Dick Rowe would forevermore be known as only one thing: the man who said no to The Beatles.

Read the rest of the entry on our Creative Cultures blog.

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