Leading Ideas: Great Thinking Always Starts Half-Baked

Over the years, I've run a program with clients called Seeds of the Future. It's a one day brainstorming/presencing process designed to identify the "signals" that people are seeing on the horizon, but not necessarily discussing in a structured way. One of the things that makes the process successful is that ideas don't need to be fully baked in order to bring them up for discussion. And once on the table, participants can only build on an idea, not tear it down. "I was skeptical at first," a client recently commented, "but as the day progressed it became clear just how many conversations we weren't having - about interesting and important topics. And furthermore how we can unwittingly and easily squash ideas in ourselves and others when they're still fragile. We lose a lot of creativity that way."

Consider This:

You've got wonderful thoughts in your head - big thoughts, passionate thoughts, thoughts that make you come alive when you think about them. We all do. These are our lifeblood - where we find meaning and purpose. One of the challenges we all face is bringing these thoughts to the light of day. Letting them leave the womb of our mind to face a world that can demand clarity that we don't yet have. This threat of exposure can give us pause. Suddenly, our big ideas shrink towards mediocrity. We begin to question. "Does this even make sense?" "Am I delusional?" In reality, the answer to both is - maybe. But that doesn't matter. What matters is your conviction in the pursuit of your ideas. That's always more valuable than the ideas themselves. New thinking, by definition, is a little delusional at the outset. Don't let that scare you from exploring and sharing it with others - that's what makes it better.

Try This:

  1. Take a piece of paper and finish this sentence with 5-10 different answers - Something I'd like to explore further is ______.
  2. Pick one thing on the list and devise a plan for exploring it. Perhaps alone at first. This could include reading, reflecting, writing
  3. Share it with others to refine your thinking in the friction of dialogue
  4. Stay mindful of the fact that your first attempts to "go public" with new ideas can feel awkward - and push through it.

"The very minute a thought is threatened with publicity it seems to shrink towards mediocrity."
— Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
(1841-1935) US Supreme Court Justice

Doug Sundheim is an executive coach & consultant based in NYC -http://www.dougsundheim.com

Add New Comment

2 Comments