How creative people can 'smell' a useful idea

2009

At an early stage, creative people can sense the 'smell' of a new idea. They are then sufficiently motivated to pursue and develop that creative thought.

Often, an idea which might not seem of interest to most people can have this special 'smell' for someone with creative skills. There seems to be some sort of instinct at work. However, it is more a sense of judgment developed through experience.

At the early stages of an idea, the point of interest is difference. Something that is different, or perhaps the opposite, of the norm will always arouse interest. However, it's quite another matter whether that interest develops into something practical.

Showing value and benefits is the purpose of any new idea. If an idea suggests large benefits at an early stage, it is always worth hearing and pursuing. However, the benefits have to be made very apparent.

If there are no obvious benefits then it is not a creative idea. You should not develop an idea and hope that the benefits will come along at a later stage.

If an idea seems practical, it is always attractive to people with creative skills. There are many aspects to practicality. The idea has to be practical and feasible from the points of view of mechanics and science. The idea must also be practical when it comes to acceptance; the people who will be implementing the idea have to be behind it.

An idea is often attractive if it is simple. The idea might be simple to introduce or simple to operate, or the simplicity could replace an existing complexity. It is always enticing to smell simplicity in an idea.

There are good ideas which will only work in a particular set of circumstances, or good ideas which will only work for a certain set of people – for instance, people with big plans but not much money.

Not every idea has to work on a universal basis. There are niche ideas which can be very effective. These ideas might be worth implementing. But when it comes to 'smelling an idea', however, niche ideas don't always seem attractive, although ideas can be seen to be valuable if the niche is spelled out very clearly. It shouldn't be left to the listener to work out the niche for which the idea has value.

Ideas that will work even when not fully implemented – robust ideas – are attractive to people with creative skills because they will work even beyond the best circumstances.

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About The Author

Edward de Bono
Edward de Bono

Edward de Bono is a leading authority in the field of creative thinking. Over 35 years after the publication of his first book, "The Mechanism of Mind", the basic principles he outlined are now mainstream thinking in the mathematics of self-organising systems and in the design of neuro-computers. His many subsequent books have been translated into 26 languages.