Idea Incubator 14: Gauging Good Ideas


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glass collection of Liane Sebastian
There are always more ideas than time to do them. Sifting through approaches shifts focus from the hot emotions of insight to the cold emotions of evaluation. Taking a step back to determine what is worth the investment of time and resources is probably the most important step in the creative process.

Judith Anderson  studies creativity in the corporate setting, magnifying from the individual into the team.

“Decide what is a weed and what is a flower. Cultivation is not only elimination, it is also regard for what the creative process brings forward. Appreciate what is in your garden to create enthusiasm and motivation.”
—Judith Anderson, contributor to Women who Win at Work

The grass may be so green that it is distracting. Creative thinkers are known to ‘chase rainbows.’ I am accused more of the latter than the former. Rather than look for green grass, I return to the well, to re-till my own soil, treasure hunt in my imagination. With new ideas everyday, I have a checklist to determine which are most worth pursuing:

How do you know a good idea?

• It itches. It won’t go away. It reoccurs in other forms or applications. It pops up as a theme even when trying to forget about it.

• You think of it first thing in the morning. Perhaps you dream about it. The best ideas penetrate the subconscious—which is the well of creative combinations.

• It leverages your talents, bringing forth combinations of background, experience, and skills. Suddenly it feels as though you had been building up to this point your whole career.

• It uses connections that you have, via colleagues, associates, family, or educational. The more people you know that exemplify your audience, the better.

• It is within your control. It uses resources that you already have and don’t need to develop. Beware of ideas that may lead to precarious financial risks!

• It passes advisor tests. Show it to those who both have opinions you respect and will be frank with you.

• It is relevant. Select experts who have experience in your pursuit to study or perhaps approach for counsel. If positioned as competition, acquire advice from association connections or a business group like SCORE.

• It is scalable. You can break out a portion to develop as a sample or as a test.

• It is simple enough to grasp quickly. Through combining, editing, and developing, the idea is polished to express a have business case.

• It is expansive enough to sustain enthusiasm. Having enough fire within it to pull your attention, it is not an idea that has to be pushed. Yet it must be strong enough to withstand market challenges and inspire perseverance.

The idea itself is the first payback to the author. It is the first big rush of working on a meaningful project. The dreams of being impactful launch the project on its highest note. The best project managers will take the step back to identify the most difficult parts of the project before beginning. The enthusiasm at the beginning is worth celebrating but will be empty if it is abandoned too soon. Ensure that your journey is the right one.

See the developing series of Idea Incubators.

Liane Sebastian, illustrator, designer, writer, and publishing pioneer


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One Response to “Idea Incubator 14: Gauging Good Ideas”

  1. Idea Incubator 24: Emotions as Creative Guideposts « Wisdomofwork's Blog Says:

    […] Explore the process to arrive at the single most important and impactful question. #14: “Gauging Good Ideas” Having ideas and knowing which are worth pursuing involve different levels of the creative […]

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