Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Ideas and Creativity

Ideas and creativity

What is an idea? The Webster’s dictionary defines it as ‘form or appearance of a thing as opposed to its reality’ i.e. something one thinks, knows or imagines. A concept, thereby implying that it is something intangible and ephemeral unless one converts it into a tangible resource.
A few days ago I received the following email
I am currently working on a project for my internship at an advertising company. I need to come up with simple messages that can be used in advertising regarding creativity and ideas. In specific, my project is about how we define ideas/creativity and how we value them/it. I would greatly appreciate, if you have some time, any help/suggestions you can give me with regards to this assignment. Since it is quite abstract, I thought to make two specific questions and ask people to give me their thoughts on them. I hope this way I can get some examples that would help put my project in the context of our daily lives. Ok, here are the questions if you have some time to write to me and help me with your thoughts on them 1) On how we define ideas: what is an example of a great/good idea you have heard/read/thought of yourself? Any idea, from any field is fine (art, business, work, daily life, comedy, humor etc etc). People define ideas and good ideas in different ways, so I thought by getting examples from people would be a good way for me to define the concept first 2) On how we value ideas: i don't know how you can value ideas, so I will create a hypothetical question/situation. Ideas/creativity, especially the good/brilliant ones, like somethings in life as per the mastercard commercial can be priceless. But priceless can be too abstract when it comes to understanding how we value ideas. Usually money is an indication of value so let me put this question in financial terms. If money was not an issue, say you won or had some money, any kind of amount, let's say a small one like $10-$15, would you invest/give it to someone who had a good idea he/she shared with you, or would you rather spend it to buy a cd, dvd, magazine or any other everyday small-value product you usually buy/like? The question can be turned in the other direction as well, what if someone you shared your good idea with, was very impressed with it and wanted to invest some money in it, would that make you feel that your idea was valued in a real sense compared to just receiving a good word for it, like "hey this was a good idea, good luck with it"? Your thoughts on the above would be greatly appreciated as they might give me insights for my project that I cannot come up with by myself. Any other thought/example you might want to share is fine as well. Sincerely

What a great idea! Getting people from around the world to help with an assignment. An intangible concept suddenly becomes tangible with an intrinsic value. i.e. XYZ will now have access to info that was till now in my brain and can be used towards completing the assignment.
English cartoonist and author Ashleigh said that” Good ideas are common, what’s uncommon are people who’ll work hard enough to bring them about.” If I had a dollar for an idea, I’d be a millionaire…… how often we have said that to ourselves. I am definitely guilty of having “ wonderful ideas” ( As Carl Gustav said “ every one is in love with their ideas”) but have not yet made them tangible. So yes the value of an idea is intrinsically linked with the cash return it may garner. An idea is of no value to the idea generator or the rest of the world till it becomes a tangible value added outcome.
Also I think, idea is an extension of one’s ego/ passion/need. Very often the passion of the idea generator can be a key towards seeing the idea turn into reality or just fizzing away into the ether. Often the ideas don’t have to be radical to make an impact, they just have to be convertible into reality.
If one was to take any example from modern day or history, we can see that everything was someone’s idea and not necessarily it was the idea generator that reaped the benefits. If we were to take the example of Mc Donald’s, The two brothers whose name is plastered all over the planet ( with maybe opening one on the moon!!!) are not even thought of as the inventors of the idea. Mc Donalds is associated with Ray Kroc. Why? Because the two brothers Richard and Maurice or Dick and Mac who invented the fast food concept, lacked the drive and organizational skills needed to capitalize on their invention.
We can therefore safely surmise that an idea is of no value till we can attach tangibility and dollar return to it. In order for an idea to become successful, we need support from believers in the form of financial investment, or as Malcom Gladwell says in his book - The Tipping Point, enlist the help of Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen to spread your idea and create a stir.


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