Okay a couple more blog type thoughts I’ve had today.
Been thinking about the concept of Six Degrees of Separation and its ironically come up in a number of places in these last few weeks. And this evenings thought on that subject is relative to blogging and reading blogs. I just checked in to catch up on my blog reading for the first time since the middle of last week. The first three places I go to are Frank Patrick’s Focused Performance Weblog, Joe Elys Learning About Lean and Hal Macombers Reforming Project Management. It’s been from reading their bogs that I’ve been turned on to a whole bunch of other great blogs.
It was tonite in reading Frank Patrick’s Focused Performance Blog that I just got turned onto another blogger Erik Benson. I was reading Frank’s blog post of Thursday, July 17, 2003 regarding and commenting on Erik Benson’s blog post The Idea Algorithm. To anyone reading this particular blog post that’s Three Degrees of Separation were talking about. Your reading something here (the first degree), that I read somewhere else (the second degree), that he read somewhere else (the third degree). While Frank’s post was primarily about Erik Benson’s Idea Algorithm he also made mention of Erik’s thoughts regarding the non-self-evidence of good ideas. That was the hook for me this evening.
Earlier in the day I was talking with a colleague Joe Provey who is going to be the editor of the Taunton Press’s (Fine Home Building magazine’s) new business management newsletter due to start early next year (the newsletter never came to fruition) . In our conversation, in addition and in contrast to Erik’s thoughts regarding how good ideas are often hidden I had mentioned to Joe how I thought bad ideas were valuable and useful. Often when talking with the fellows I work with regarding business process improvements I hold off saying anything for a while, sometimes not even attending the initial meetings just so that my people wont be tainted or influenced by trying to think or anticipate what I’m thinking we should do.
And even then when I eventually do join in I will on occasion intentionally offer up some bad ideas for discussion. The benefits to that are; #1 it humanizes me so I’m not seen as the higher than high end all authority on what to do. It “humblizes” my position and helps to make me appear capable of the same stupid mistakes that everyone else makes. Not that I don’t do that enough on my own at times, but the point is real true creativity is not driven and inspired by trying to anticipate and figuring out what the boss (me) is thinking.
#2 the fellows get some good mental exercise finding what’s wrong with my bad idea and they can then take that thinking and apply it to their own “better ideas” to see how they hold up under the same kind of scrutiny.
#3 sometimes things just need to get shaken up and something really stupid and ridiculous can help reveal a beautiful elegant underlying path to a fresh good idea.
In the long run I don’t think good or even great ideas necessarily come from thinking harder and working the kinks out of out one particular idea. They come from having lots or tons of ideas. Isn’t it (I think?) Tom Kelly of Ideo and author of The Art of Innovation who talks about the importance of the rapid iteration of many ideas as being a key to great creativity?
I’m adding this as an addendum to Eriks thoughts on the non-self-evidence of good ideas. When he says “Good ideas, therefore, are hidden. They’re hidden in dark alleys which are only good because you know that there’s a route to escape and your pursuer doesn’t.” That’s very true. Sometimes the bad idea can throw light down that alley or shake things in a way opens up a crack in the wall that will let that good idea out into the light of day. The bad ideas can be helpful in breaking down down the walls that hide the information that Erik has pointed out good ideas are built on.