Today’s world is all about convenience. Everything nowadays is being sold to us pre-packaged – from meals to holidays, clothes to entertainment. The problem with this convenient consumer culture is that we also expect our new ideas to come conveniently gift-wrapped, which is another myth of innovation.
The belief that good ideas arrive fully formed often stops us from developing them, which forecloses the possibility of those ideas becoming great. When pitching a new idea to, say, a team at work, one of the things innovators often hear is “We’ve already tried that” or “We don’t work like that here.” This is unfortunate as these criticisms nip the possibility of growth in the bud and ignore the fact that new ideas don’t come conveniently ready-made.
New ideas need to be nurtured and developed over time in an encouraging environment.
The reason why people engage in this sort of idea-destroying behavior is simple: they expect perfection right from the beginning. But even automobile inventor Henry Ford didn’t get it right the first time around. Rather, his earlier models were mostly awkward, smelly and inefficient. Thankfully, Ford realized that the future rarely arrives as a finished product and continued developing his cars.
He also realized that innovation is a sloppy process. When it comes to creating a great idea, there’s no exact formula to follow – the secret is simply to have many ideas.
The world’s greatest creative thinkers are known for compulsively coming up with the next new thing. The composer Beethoven obsessively recorded every idea that popped into his head, and even interrupted conversations and walked out in the middle of meals to do so. And novelist Ernest Hemingway wrote and then rewrote dozens of his stories, constantly changing the characters, plots and themes.
Great ideas don’t come quick and easy; they require a lot of hard work. We need to constantly generate new ideas and then tend to them, as well as allow them time to bloom.