December 31 2017

I have a general theory about ideas I would like to share. It's based on two axioms:

1. You need to have a lot of ideas to find a good one.
2. Most ideas are bad.

The following theorem can be derived:

You need a lot of bad ideas in order to come up with a good one.

It means that you shouldn't be in creative business if:

1. You can't produce a lot of ideas.
2. You get too emotional about your ideas and easily get defensive.

It also means that good ideas require an environment in which having bad ideas is not only fine, but encouraged. Constantly admitting you are wrong and fighting your ego is hard. It requires practice and psychologically safe workspace. This can be hard or impossible in the cultures based on a strong hierarchy and competition. Not many managers will easily admit they are wrong to their subordinates.

Finally, it's not really about individual ideas. It's about the connections and interactions between them. A good or original idea is usually just an original combination of the existing ones. You need to find the right rules that will allow emergence of “communities of ideas”, that can evolve and adapt to the problem in hand.

To achieve that, you need to try a lot of ideas, majority of which will be bad.

I wish you a Happy New Year and a lot of bad ideas in 2018!

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