Seeing ‘my’ ideas in print

Nothing beats seeing your ideas written, visualised, published etc. Plenty beats seeing your ideas written, visualised, published etc. by someone else. Of course your idea is an idea that could have been had by lots of other people but when you have that idea you feel special. You are sure it is a good idea. You are sure it is an innovative idea. When someone else writes it down first you are now very sure it is a good idea.

Of course I am not vain enough to think that I had this idea first. Most, if not all, ideas will be had by more than one person at around the same time. Steven B. Johnson covers ‘idea multiples in his book where good ideas come from. He explains

‘A brilliant idea occurs to a scientist or inventor somewhere in the world, and he goes public with his remarkable finding, only to discover that three other minds had independently come up with the same idea in the past year’

For example sun spots were discovered in 1611 by four scientists in four different countries completely independently. My idea is far from the discovery of sun spots.

As you can guess this happened to me recently. I have had this idea in my head for well over a year. I have had grand plans on how to visualise and sell this idea but I have just not got round to doing it. The value of ideas in your head is zero. In fact it is probably a negative number as thoughts in your head occupy areas of your mind, use up valuable processing time and generally get in the way of other stuff.


Idea in head =  -£10

Idea written on fag packet = £10

Idea published for others to see = £20


I think Brendan Dawes put it best in his great print, which you can buy here.

I wonder if Brendan fancies doing another version that reads ‘Thought – Action = Dumb Shit’ or something like that.

Once the idea is out of your head. It has the chance to evolve and be refined. It can be shared with others to get the idea validated and enhanced (or mocked). It means the idea has a chance of becoming more than just an idea.

The idea in question was written, visualised and published by an agency working with the company I work for. I would love to say what the idea is but I can’t. After getting over the disappointment of not being the one to come up with (or publish it first) this brilliant, in my humble opinion, idea I now feel a need to evangelise this idea and to ensure it is not crushed by the design by committee types or overlooked as just a feature that can be dropped.

The fact it was written, visualised, published by someone external to my company, that have been paid to come up with ideas, might actually help the idea because sometimes external expertise is treated with higher regard, and in this case rightly so. I am not bothered about getting credit for ideas I just want to see ideas that I think are good get built.

The moral of the story is get ideas out of your head. Write them down somewhere. Draw a picture. What ever way you want to represent them. Just do it. Now. Don’t be a dumb shit.

Thanks to Chris Dymond for helping me find the page in Steven’s book featuring Idea Multiples.


Anonymous says:

Truer words and so on, glad you “got it out”, your idea about not wasting ideas. 🙂

Of course after this your readers will all be curious to know what this secret genius idea is, but then again we understand the secrecy and we can all just thank you for the “Execute FFS!” reminder.

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