MURDER BOARDS – Turn Radical Ideas into Big Profits

By Blog, Innovation

It was my first week on the job and my boss asked me what I would change from processes to people to technology. There was no way I was going to tell him what I really thought during my first week and be labeled as the team “know it all”.

But, companies are desperate to find ideas – so desperate that they will ask anyone about anything just to get something.

So how does a great leader find great ideas? How do they know when a big idea will turn into big profits?

Easy! Just implement a Murder Board.

It sounds exactly as it is. Your job is to take lessons from Dexter. Kill those ideas that will systematically kill your profits and fortify the best ideas that will boost your bottom line.

This is how a Murder Board works.

WARNING: This is not for the faint at heart. Murder Boards are for organizations that are passionate about staying ahead of the curve and cornering the market.


You’ll need some scouts, gladiators, serial killers, a sheriff, and a few great ideas. Since this isn’t your typical Walmart run, here is what you are looking for.

  • Scouts
    Scouts are, quite literally, every person in your company. They know that ideas are born out of necessity, competition, or improvement. These front line activists are on the look-out new ways to streamline processes, increase profits, save money, and innovate beyond the competition. They can see what’s missing and what’s possible. They ask WHY and WHY NOT a lot.
  • Gladiators
    Gladiators review ideas that are presented by Scouts. They ask the tough questions and determine why the idea is needed, who will benefit from it, and the impact of the idea. They are brave, fearless, great communicators, and passionate (usually great debaters with amazing critical thinking skills and unique perspectives. I was a Gladiator. Yeah… I like a good argument.).
  • Ideas
    I think we know what these are. Check out this article to discover the types of ideas worth harnessing.
  • Serial Killers
    Might sound bad, but these are actually the good guys. Kinda like Dexter. Their job is to protect the company from weak ideas by killing them before they can do any damage. They are just like Gladiators, but have a different role.
  • Sheriffs
    They manage the process, have the final say, and ensure that the Serial Killers and Gladiators don’t kill each other. These referee types have no allegiances to people. They care about the company, fairness, and have high amounts of integrity. They are not swayed by the like or dislike of others.


  • Scouts find ideas and deliver them to the Gladiators.
  • Gladiators prepare to present the idea to the Murder Board. They are willing the fight to the death… or until the Sheriff bring the debate to an end.
  • Serial Killers are the members of the Murder Board. When Gladiators present and defend their ideas, Serial Killers try to kill them. They ask the tough questions and keep attacking an idea until the Sheriff determines its fate.
  • The Sheriff defines the rules of the game and keeps the peace. They will determine things like: How many holes can be poked before an idea is dead? What types of ideas will be presented: ie strategic, tactical, technical, product based, etc? What makes an idea worthy of moving forward?
    The Sheriff also is the final decision-maker of the fate of an idea. Finally, the Sheriff manages the flow (and sometimes passions) during the meeting.


The weak ideas can go back to the drawing board and be presented later as a newer, stronger, and better idea.

Winning ideas are ready to go to the next stage. It is now up to corporate leaders to decide what they want to do next. At my company, we implemented Hack-A-Thons that allowed teams to take 20% of their work week during the last quarter of the year to work on winning ideas. During the first quarter of the next year, The Hack-a-Thonians delivered demos to voters – kind of like presenting to a Venture Capitol Board – who would pick the best demos based on a specific set of criteria.


Employee engagement was at an all time high as teams constantly looked forward to the Hack-A-Thon. Teamwork was highly improved. Most Gladiators, Serial Killers and Sheriffs became great presenters, listeners, and organizational leaders. The best ideas where implemented and caused my company to outpace the competition. The Murder Board directly impacted our bottom line profits for positive net gains.


Let’s cut to the chase. Dawnna is a breakthrough business author and rockstar keynote speaker. She works with organizations that want to harness the power of people in business. If you’d like her to deliver content like what’s in this article or you just want to see her do thisthen give her a shout.