Don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t get it’

big-tom-hanks-robotI don’t know about you, but the 1988 movie BIG starring Tom Hanks has stayed with me since I first saw it in the theater and it’s one of those movies that when stumbled upon on television I always end up stopping and watching at least for a while.

Frequently, a particular scene from the movie comes into to my mind when I hear what is simply a bad idea from a client, partner, or even a service provider.

The scene link here has protagonist 12 year old Josh (Tom Hanks) inside the body of a 30 year old man (I figure I cannot give away a plot line that happened more than 27 years ago). He works for a toy company (run by Robert Loggia’s engaging character in the movie and who wouldn’t want to work for a guy like that?) and in a boardroom meeting on a new product development Josh raises his hand as if he is in a 6th grade class and when called upon:

Any questions? Yes? Yes?”


“I don’t get it.”


“What exactly don’t you get?”


“It turns from a building into a robot, right?”




“Well, what’s fun about that?”

Clear, concise and dead-on. In marketing as in just about any other area of business, the simple sentence “I don’t get it” is not stated nearly enough.

Too often people fall in love with an idea without considering it’s actual intended use. Making it worse is the people around them that propagate a bad idea and fall in line behind it. We all like to read and hear about the disruptors and the rebels that won’t accept the status quo. In truth we’ve all been in far too many meetings at which a bad or non-workable idea is promoted and it’s just easier to let it go and fall in line than challenge it for what it is.

Of course if actually raising one’s hand in a meeting and declaring, “I don’t get it” borders on corporate suicide then I would not recommend it. There are many more subtle ways to make that point but maybe, just maybe, there will be a time when the plainest and simplest response to an idea that has little or no merit is to say – “I don’t get it”.

You know you want to. When will you?

About markkolier

Futurist, entrepreneur, left lane driver, baseball lover
This entry was posted in Best business practices, Career Development and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t get it’

  1. Carl Dreyer says:

    Funny, i do exactly the same thing and it happened just this week! i caught the scene of the Christmas party with the white tux, the baby corn and the caviar. priceless! and you’re right; challenging the boss’s idea with an “i don’t get it” is corporate suicide!


  2. mediocrenick says:

    I might be digressing but i just want to say that i love the movie, a boy growing up, wanting to be a man..


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