We all want the next great idea – the Frisbee, the Hula Hoop, the iPod, GPS or Tootsie Roll. In working with people I often ask them to list 20 ideas for things they could imagine and would enjoy doing. And then I watch them struggle as they filter each idea – often with a quick “Yes but” that destroys even the consideration of a possibility.
What if I asked you for a list of 20 things you would hate doing? As soon as you have some life experience, knowing what you don’t want is often the most helpful tool in the process of clarification.
Maybe creating a list of 20 things that wouldn’t work is the best tool for finding the next great idea. If you’re making adhesives, you don’t want a product that doesn’t stick permanently – but then you discover Post-It-Notes. You wouldn’t want a magnetron that melted a candy bar when you got too close – but then you discover the micro-wave oven. The last thing you want in your sterile labrotory is mold – oh wait, that’s penicillin.
Your mistakes, failures and bad ideas may be the very ingredients you need to uncover your greatest idea ever. Could you learn how to generate more bad ideas? It seems the good ones just magically slip though. Don’t miss the opportunities brought to light by your mistakes.