Monday, November 1, 2010

Theory of the Conservation of Bright Ideas

I have been working on a Theory of the Conservation of Bright Ideas for several years now.

I know of people who have too many bright ideas, they have bright ideas like a horse pie has mushrooms. What I have learned, having had my own bright ideas, is that the idea in and of itself is not of value, but the sweat and commitment to realize the idea is the most important element. This said, what I find is that if bright ideas are too freely traded around and have no bone to them that they tend to lose their luster. At issue with a bright idea is that simply having it, or having the most remarkable bright idea is not a guarantee that other people will pick it up and move forward with it. In other words, if a bright idea does not have LEGS then it won't walk.

One bright idea I had was the Traditional Trades Education Resource Directory and I was really into it and had structured a 'team' of partners and advisers and written a nice grant proposal until it was pointed out to me that the acronym is T-TERD.

But as to the Theory of the Conservation of Bright Ideas what I find is that folks who have a bright idea and then commit to doing the hard grunt work of realizing the one idea into the world, that they stick to it tenaciously through thick and thin, that they never take defeat for an answer, that they are not dissuaded or drawn off track by other competing bright ideas, that they tend to have fewer bright ideas than the person who freely willy nilly invents bright ideas in the gross -- the bright idea fountain that spews forth without ever having any hope or intention of realizing the ideas (they are already very bright and shiny), for the most part expecting other folks to catch on to the magnificence of the bright idea and be inspired to do the work.

There is only so much energy and attention that an individual, or a group of people, can put into the world in the realization of bright ideas.

One aspect of the Theory of the Conservation of Bright Ideas is that in a culture and economy where it is not possible to do anything to realize a bright idea that there seems to be a direct correlation to the production of bright ideas. It is as if when one cannot work to realize bright ideas then it is just as well to have an abundance of them. But in an environment where people can actually work to realize bright ideas they tend to get caught up in following them to the exclusion of coming up with all freshly minted new ones.


  1. I think there's a danger of assuming that a bright idea is a good idea. Like putting a sign in flashing neon above your house that says, "Shit." Just because it's bright doesn't mean people want to see it. Bright is one of those words like 'clever' - it can be a disparaging remark: calling someone a 'clever clogs' or a 'bright spark' is not usually meant as a compliment.

  2. I've tended to name these folks "idea hamsters" because it's like their idea generation is on a hamster wheel.