Saturday, October 25, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 299

The worst kind of ideas? Lonely ones.

I mentioned the great experience I had yesterday visiting Scarsdale Public Schools.  One of the presenters mentioned a book that sounds intriguing called Lonely Ideas: Can Russia Compete? (by Loren Graham).

The basic premise seems to be this:

Throughout history, there have been plenty of great ideas that have arisen in countries like Russia.  However, due to the more tightly held structure of that society and its culture, idea generators and visionaries were and are often thinking and creating alone.  Unlike in the US, where ideation continues to happen in all sorts of formats (alone, paired, teamed, crowd-sourced, etc.), Russian ideas were and are often lonely ones, doomed to sit on an idea shelf, without anyone realizing how great they are.

The crowd-sourcing of ideation and true power of collaboration is apparent when you consider the downfall of lonely ideas.

Even the best ideas mean nothing if no one knows they exist.  So, it makes sense to wonder, "How do we avoid crafting lonely ideas?"

1.  Bounce creations off collaborators.  Every idea you have should be bounced off at least two people.  If each of these two people bounce it off two more, you can get a massive return on your initial ideation.  The best way to tell an idea's worth is never through your own eyes (of course we think all of our own ideas are great :) ).  The more minds considering an idea, the more accurate a decision we'll be able to make about it.

2.  Retire an idea when it is time.  Some ideas, regardless of their "greatness," never seem to catch on (search for the kitchen invention my wife and I "created," it's called "Click 'n Cook").  We have to be willing to part with all ideas when it is time to hang them up.  Ideas take up space, and we can't create more when the ideation portion of our brain is full.

3.  Stay social.  The best way to avoid lonely ideas is to craft a community of conversationalists.  Encourage talk, debate, argumentation, and feedback giving.  Show others that unless we converse around what matters, we'll never know what truly does.

A lonely idea is a lit match in another room.  No matter how much light it gives off, you'll never know it exists.  Better to open all the doors and let the light shine through; we should always want to bring others into the ideation fold.

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