Ideas are a journey. They start at one point, travel this way and that and usually arrive at a destination that looks nothing like where they began. The trick is too keep travelling along the road with the bad idea, to keep refining and moulding and reshaping until, pretty often, the bad idea has blossomed into a good one.
It’s the journey from bad to good, if you know what I mean, that makes an idea good. Bad ideas are the seeds of good ideas. It’s their very badness that makes us explore, extend and discover. They unleash our creativity.
You need courage and conviction to stick with a bad idea – to nurture it into a good one. You’ve got to have the patience to go into the dark places, the boring places, the impossible places and the empty places that are usually mandatory pit stops on the path to great places – where ideas become good.
So don’t stomp on bad ideas. Accept that they serve a purpose and let them get on with serving it. Let them annoy, depress, scare, frustrate, bore, amuse and bemuse you. Let them out. Let their badness be your starting point. Let their badness be your inspiration.
Know that bad ideas will eventually grow up. They may come into the world howling like a baby but there’s every chance that they’ll evolve into fine grown ups, given enough nurturing and attention. You might just be surprised what kind of adult your idea turns out to be.
Some bad ideas that grew into good ones
Post-It Notes: It took over a decade to transform this bad idea into a brilliant one. The concept behind the adhesive reminder notes was a flop when it was first dreamt up in the late 60s by a 3M employee because, at that time, there was no way to actually manufacture them. 3M finally committed to the idea in the mid 70s but it took them 5 years to develop, design and build the machines to make the product.
Touch Screens: Workable touch screen were actually invented in 1971 by Hewlett Packard for their personal computers. By 1977 they came up with what was to become the most popular technology for touch screens today. So why was it a bad idea? Because it took some 30 years and another company to work out what to do with them.