I remember my childhood. I heard this question many times, when I refused to be a “good boy”. Growing up, we’re all taught to follow the rules. Wait your turn in line. Fill in the bubble of the right answer. Eat your dessert last. Tie your shoes and tuck your shirt in. Don’t ask stupid questions. But adults are allowed to ask this question. We’re rewarded for caution and deliberation, punished for coloring outside the lines.
Over time, we’re shuffled into groups based on test results and pursue careers based on our credentials and degrees. I found myself again in a publishing house. We eventually file into offices where we are required to dress a certain way, talk a certain way; behave a certain way. At some point along this journey, the world designates you as “creative” or “non-creative” with most people falling into the latter category. Actually, I always found myself creative. Well… . Yes, I have always known that creative thinking is necessary for success.
Most people will have heard the basic mantra of brainstorming: there is no such thing as a bad idea. With this premise in mind, people are encouraged to share any idea they have without fear of ridicule or judgement. While some concepts may not be achievable, these so-called ‘bad ideas’ can often be necessary stepping stones to good ones.
Bad ideas can sometimes have great potential, they just need to be picked apart and refined. That’s where collaboration comes in: by bringing in your community to provide valuable inputs, ideas can be improved upon collectively to ultimately lead to business success.
It can also happen that ideas may seem outlandish but which hold real value. The key is to identify the assets of a ‘crazy’ idea and invest in developing it to bear fruits. It can however be difficult to spot such an idea, particularly for larger companies. The following three steps could prove useful so that companies do not miss out on the good of ‘bad’ ideas:
Reframing seemingly problematic ideas may just need reframing. Rather than discarding it completely, look at the problem and the solution, and explore other paths that could lead to possible breakthroughs.
Listen to all stakeholders regularly – their insights can help move towards a better version of an idea. The individual expertise and experience of each employee can help mould an idea to add value.
You should want to get more ideas fast, but you should also make sure that idea generation is effective to help you make your way through the fog and achieve real, measurable success.
Embracing bad ideas is part of the idea generation process, which has proven to be more effective in companies that nurture a culture of innovation and encourage creativity and innovation across the board.
Mark Twain expressed once: “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”
I strongly agree with him.