home › jeremy clark in the news
Jeremy Clark in the news
What Are your Ideas Trying to Tell You?
30 October 2013 | Forbes.com
by Jeremy Clark
"The Nobel Prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling has been credited with saying: “If you want to have good ideas you must have many ideas.” Companies of all sizes have embraced that advice, investing considerable time and energy into innovation projects, amassing vast storehouses of ideas along the way. If we take Pauling’s definition of ‘good’ to mean ‘breakthrough’—having the potential to create dramatically higher level of value than current solutions—then these vast databases seem to be a positive sign.
It’s a shame, then, that the second part of Pauling’s advice tends to be overlooked: “Most of (your ideas) will be wrong, and what you have to learn is which ones to throw away.” It’s certainly true that most ideas written on a Post-It note or submitted to an online system never get used, but the reason has more to do with a bias toward short-term payback in most innovation processes than informed filtration.
Most innovation campaigns involve a discovery phase (developing insights about the challenge) followed by an ideation phase (brainstorming solutions). For most companies, built for efficient replication, this “divergent” activity is uncomfortable. When the brainstorming is complete, there tends to be a relieved resurgence of reflexive execution-bias, a comforting sense of making choices and assigning development actions. This “convergent” activity is often known as the selection phase."