July 23, 2019

Where do good ideas come from?

I am pleased to welcome Entrepreneur David Harkin as our first guest blogger of the week. David is the founder of 7billionideas who will be running workshops (starting at 11.00am) for budding entrepreneurs on the Greenford campus on Monday March 16th.  

The concept of ideas, how they start and where they come from, fascinates me on a daily basis. What makes an idea good? What makes an idea bad? Why do some ideas develop and others do not? The question of “Where do good ideas comes from?” has been queried before. Many people try to build and replicate environments which encourage innovation and idea generation, all in the hope that new good ideas would be generated. As you can imagine, being the founder of 7billionideas, I have an opinion on this big question.

David Harkin - Founder of 7billionideas
David Harkin – Founder of 7billionideas

Recently I came across an article which estimated that only 2.5% of the UK population have innovative minds. What a ridiculous statistic and what absolute rubbish. Anyone who has ever had a shower, sat on a bus, gone for a run or simply laid in a bed, has come up with an idea. This means everyone has the potential to be creative, including every student at GSM London. Everyone is innovative. The problem has always been that people do not remember their ideas, or indeed act on them. To act on an idea takes courage, to have courage can take years to develop for some individuals.

One of the most interesting books I have read is Steven Johnson’s ‘Where do good ideas come from?’ He has spent a huge part of his life looking to address this big question. Johnson concludes that good ideas come from a collection of hunches. Hunches being, ad hoc ideas which are logged in the brain and then a moment comes when they are all added together to create the idea. He sways away from the ‘lightbulb’ theory of world-changing ideas coming to people on the fly, but argues strongly, with sense, with logic and with examples, that good ideas come together when hunches collide. The challenge people have is that they don’t have the tools or environment to build ideas and allow hunches ‘to persist and disperse and recombine’.

I believe in a simple ideas formula – If you share, note down and read enough ideas, good ideas will come together in your mind. Because of all the ideas you’ve shared, noted down and read, over the years the vital ingredient of having the courage to act on your ideas will come to you. Courage doesn’t come in a sealed envelope from the postman. Courage comes from years of learning. Years of mistakes. Years of thinking. It’s never too late to give something a try. Johnson is quick to add that an idea is never finished too, it is always developing. You will never really know where an idea could take you until you start the journey of developing it and believe me it’s an exciting one.

In an effort to conclude on his theories, the closing words Johnson uses in his book are words of advice on how to generate more good ideas. It summarises the brilliant 246 pages before it with – ‘Go for a walk; cultivate hunches; write everything down, keep your folders messy, make mistakes, take on multiple hobbies, visit coffee houses and other liquid networks (I like this one!), follow the links, let others build on your ideas, borrow, recycle, re-invent. Build a tangled bank’ – Start building your bank of ideas today. Remember – No idea is silly, it just might be disliked. If you share, read and note down enough ideas, one day your hunches will collide and you really will begin to form more good ideas!

The fact is, we’re living in a generation where the tools are at our fingertips to get an idea of the ground. With crowdfunding and social media platforms easily available, there is no reason why you can’t build a brand from your bedroom in no time at all.

Embrace Entrepreneurship week at GSM London. Take the time out of your studies to listen to interesting speakers, join fascinating workshops and remember to jot down every idea that comes to mind. If ever have a question you would like to by me, please feel free to drop me a tweet at @davidjharkin or a message on LinkedIn and I’ll be happy to help. Have a fantastic week.7million

2 thoughts on “Where do good ideas come from?

  1. Thanks – this is a really interesting read. It resonated with me as I’m interested in evolutionary theory (well, I’ve read some books on the subject matter) and I see parallels between the survival of cells, organisms and societies and the survival of ideas … It makes sense that everyone has the capability to have a good idea, just in the same way as everyone can survive, however I reckon that good ideas have their own natural selection mechanism which will always let the ‘good’ ideas ‘succeed’. I’m sure we can all think of many ideas that don’t sound good in principle (Crazy Frog anyone?) but due to natural selection have succeeded (however fleeting that success may have been).

    PS – I love the ideas bank … I’m going to add that to my ideas bank.

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