Where good ideas come from

Ideas rarely emerge when you do the same thing with the same people every day.

To find ideas, you need to get up from your desk. Over the years, I’ve found that the further away from my desk I am, the better the ideas.

For example, I’ve noticed that the ideas I get from peer companies are often better than the ideas I get from my work colleagues. Similarly, the ideas I get from companies outside of my industry are often better than the ones from peer companies. We can push this further…

Remember how Archimedes figured out how to measure the density of his King’s crown after noticing his bathtub water rising as he entered it? This is a great example of what Steven Johnson calls “the adjacent possible”. To get to the adjacent possible, you can’t stand in the middle of your circle. You have to get impossibly close to its edge. You have to believe that a great idea for your ethics program might appear while you are making your own change at a food truck, or watching people board a plane, or listening to an episode of StoryCorps.

Focus on your problem, and allow answers to come from outside of your focus.

One thought on “Where good ideas come from

  1. My favorite t-shirt message: “If you are not on the edge, you’re taking up too much space!”

    Sign me



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