A good example is genetics. You have a mother and you have a father. You posses features from both of them, but the sum total of you is bigger than their parts.
You are a remix of your mom and dad and all your ancestors.
Just as you have a family genealogy, you also have a genealogy of ideas.
You don’t get to pick your family, but you can pick your teachers and you can pick your friends and you can pick the music you listen to and you can pick the books you read and you can pick the movies you see and you can pick the places you hang out.
You are, in fact, a mashup, a fruit salad of what you choose to let into your life. You are the sum of your influences.
The German writer Goethe said:
“We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”
Ideas work pretty much the same. Ideas are the sum total of the environment you are exposed to. Exposure is important. If you don’t travel, it is hard to be creative if you are exposed to the same things everday.
Exposure to different things, people, and places increases the likelihood of good ideas.
I have half an idea and you have half an idea, together our half ideas makes one great idea.
The trick to having good ideas is not to sit around in glorious isolation and try to think big thoughts. The trick is to get more parts on the table.
The patterns are simple, but followed together, they make for a whole that is wiser than the sum of its parts. Go for a walk, cultivate hunches, write everything down, but keep your folders messy, embrace serendipity, make generative mistakes, take on multiple hobbies, frequent coffee shops and other networking areas, follow the links, let others build on your ideas, borrow, recycle; reinvent. Build a tangled bank.
Connecting with other people increases the opportunity of coming with creative ideas.
This is not the wisdom of the crowd, but the wisdom of someone in the crowd. It is not that the network itself is smart; it is that the individuals get smarter because they are connected to the network.
You: “So what are you working on?”
Rookie entrepreneur: “Oh, sorry. I can’t really talk about it.”
Sure, by all means keep your ideas secret, but ideas in secret die. Ideas need light and air or they starve to death.
The initial idea is not really that important. What is important is honing it, user-testing it, and executing it properly. And the people around you are invaluable to helping you do that.
“We were kids without fathers… So we found our fathers on wax and on the streets and in history. We got to pick and choose the ancestors who would inspire the world we were going to make for ourselves.” – Jay-Z
No man is an island, so are ideas.
PS: To learn more about how to come up with disruptive innovative ideas, register for the upcoming short-course starting on Wednesday, 15 May 2019. For more information to this link: