When ideas die

Oct 19 2007 by Edward de Bono Print This Article

Sometimes ideas do not survive. They are discarded or forgotten and never make it beyond the initial discussion stage. There are many and varied reasons why ideas die.

Ideas can die:

1. When the idea is attacked by enough people.

2. When the idea fails to instill enthusiasm or passion.

3. When trying out the idea will prove expensive while there are other priorities demanding funds.

4. When there is too much of a risk attached to the idea.

5. When someone senior to champion the idea is absent.

6. When the idea does not seem feasible at the initial stage.

7. When there are people opposing the idea who have ego problems with those promoting the idea.

8. When the idea is deemed similar to or the same as an old idea or something that is already being done.

9. When circumstances change or strategy is switched to lessen the value of the idea.

10. When an idea fails after being tried out for the first time.

There could of course be many more reasons to add to the above list of why ideas die.

It is often the case that when new ideas die, they are assigned to a sort of graveyard where they might never be looked at again. But it might be worthwhile if they can be reviewed periodically.

If an idea really does offer value then it is always worth assessing it from time to time in order to see if that value can now be delivered or if the value is now even more significant.

There are concepts of delivery and concepts of value. As in all types of creative thinking, it is important to extract and define the concept that seems to be in use for the new idea.

If the concept of delivery is made clear, then this concept can be challenged and an alternative way of providing the same value might be found. If the concept of value is made clear, then there might be other forms of value that come from this basic concept.

If an idea 'dies', for whatever reason, the concept behind the idea need not die at the same time. The concept can survive while an effort is made to see how it might be delivered via a practical idea.

If an idea does not survive then it is important to spell out exactly why that idea has died. Is it because of the cost of the idea or is it a matter of implementation? Is it because of a lack of feasibility and practicality, or is it a matter of risk? Perhaps it is a matter of low value?

In practice, it is often the case that an idea dies because of a combination of several different factors. It might simply be because there is low motivation for the idea. That is something that is always difficult to admit.

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About The Author

Edward de Bono
Edward de Bono

Edward de Bono (1933-2021) was 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.