Nappies and Lobster Pots. … #40 #cong18


Ideas are over-rated, perhaps at the cost of those who actually go ahead and do stuff.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Ideas are everywhere and don’t warrant a pat on the back.
  2. Ideas alone get us nowhere.
  3. Quickly discarding the vast majority of ideas is critical.
  4. All hail the do-ers.

About Barry Murphy:

Barry Murphy is a sales and marketing mentor and social media marketing trainer based in Mayo. In summer, he also brings overseas groups on guided walking holidays of Mayo and Connemara.

Contacting Barry Murphy:

You can follow Barry on Twitter and see his work on Murphy Marketing.

By Barry Murphy.

Let’s face it, ideas are like nappies – generally full of crap.

Many ideas are the same as those 5,000 Facebook page ‘likes’ you can buy for €5 – easily come by, but utterly useless.

Ideas are like a teenage girlfriend – unlikely to come to anything. Indeed, when the time comes, they’re mostly like getting married – a little thrill at the time, but typically unfulfilled thereafter.

Having said that, how do you get married without going through that apparently pointless phase first?

On recent visits, I noticed that some nutter in Glendalough National Park had the daft idea of designing a hiking map board with its top oriented to the south, while another in Cavan thought it might be nice to depict a lake in red. Some norms you just don’t touch!

And yet …

Some ideas are wonderful, like the 19th Century French job of tétaïre, a man whose task was to suck a mother’s breast to start the flow of milk.

But a typical idea is like that fish on a bicycle you can see at the Guinness Storehouse – nice image, but doesn’t work. Many more are like our beloved West of Ireland sunshine – liable to appear at any moment, but disappear within minutes.

And yet, and yet …

How great is that cruise control button in your car? Or your “app for that”?

Anyway, there are pubs up and down the country affectionately known as the “Lobster Pot”. You can get in, but you can’t get out … Similarly, ideas are generated ten-a-penny, but getting anything out of them is another story.

There’s a business adage which suggests that, in order to come up with one great idea, you first need to come up with loads. Mmm.

You know the drill. You hire an outside guru on team building, thinking outside the box, creativity, innovation and all that good stuff. Then you leave your place of work en masse for the afternoon, as “a change of venue helps those creative juices flow”. So you hire a hotel meeting room or a funky outdoors space and whip your people up into some kind of frenzied brainstorming psychosis, out of which should pop a thousand random ideas.

Good old trusted Mary, she always has loads of them. Feckin’ Johnny isn’t much of a team player and never actively takes part. Bossy Paddy has just one idea all day long, but keeps repeating it ad nauseam. Grumpy Aoife sulks when nobody pays any attention to hers.

At the end of this expensive exercise, the team returns to base, caffeined up to the hilt and with scores of emails and phone calls to catch up on. The pile of ‘great’ ideas is neatly placed on the shelf, eh, forever. But it’s okay ‘cos the biscuits were nice.

Probably comfortably more than 90% of ideas are rubbish. Recognising which ones should be immediately or rapidly discarded is the trick. Research is the key. Then hand any remotely feasible ones on to the do-ers.

Surely the most valuable stuff, the real quality, is done after the idea generation stage? If you could retain either an ‘ideas’ person or an ‘enact’ person, wouldn’t you choose the latter, for the former are as common as soft, horizontal Mayo rain …

Speaking on the radio recently, a German economist proudly declared that, unlike other societies, “we put engineers on our pedestals”. Rather than rhubarbing on about people with ideas, maybe that’s a belief system we might move towards.

Ideas are Deceitful, Gold-Digging Parasites. … #39 #cong18


The vast majority of ideas bring only misery and hardship. The whole entrepreneurial economy is a lottery and somewhere deep in the human psyche we are hard wired to fall for the scam. Success requires great ideas, but the idea is not the success. Stop putting your faith in single ideas, treat the first ones that come along like a deceitful gold-digging parasite out to distract you.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. The entrepreneurial economy is a lottery
  2. We fall for lotteries because of how our minds work
  3. Only 4% of the patents that protect our ideas make money
  4. Smart entrepreneurs treat ideas like commodities

About Damian Costello:

Damian Costello runs Decode Innovation and specialises in Disruptive Innovation and the changing market dynamics facing the Medtech sector. Damian is passionate about helping Ireland retain and grow its position in the global Medtech economy.

Damian has almost 25 years of consulting experience across global multi-nationals to local start-ups in the Medical Device, Pharma, Automotive, Financial Services and ICT sectors. He has delivered successful strategies and breakthrough solutions in Ireland, Europe, North America and Asia.

Contacting Damian Costello:

You can contact Damian by email and see his work on Decode Innovation.

By Damian Costello.

The biggest mistake I see in business is people becoming slaves to their ideas. Ideas need to be treated for what they are: deceitful gold-digging parasites. Ideas steal lives, ruin people’s objectivity, destroy their security, and make fools of those that blindly believe in them. Ideas turn sensible employees into ‘entrepreneurs’ often against their better judgement. Ideas turn ordinary business people into self-destructive zealots. Ideas should be avoided at all costs, because the vast majority of them bring only misery and hardship.

Why do so many of us fall into the ‘ideas trap’ if it is so obviously a mugs game? Why do reasonable people gamble all they have on pipedreams? My best guess is that the whole entrepreneurial economy is a lottery and ideas are just the tickets. Somewhere deep in the human psyche we are hard wired to fall for the lottery scam. Even the most sensible of us succumb, when the jackpot in the pick six lottery rolls over to eye watering levels. The ‘idea trap’ is a lottery and like all lotteries we fall for it because of three flaws in the way our minds work; our inability to comprehend probabilities, the ‘near miss effect’, and the ‘availability bias’.

The lifetime odds of someone in the US dying in a car accident is 1 in 90, in a fire 1 in 250, getting killed by lightening 1 in 135,000. The chances of winning the multi-hundred million-dollar US Powerball Lottery are 1 in 239,000,000. If human beings could appreciate probabilities, we would never get into a car and we would never enter a lottery.

The ‘near miss effect’ is illustrated by the how surprisingly easy it is to get three out of six numbers in the same US lottery; 1 in 600 compared to 1 in 239,000,000 for six. The ‘near miss effect’ convinces players who get an easy three, that they should keep going in the mistaken belief that they are nearly there.

‘Availability bias’, arguably the most relevant to business, is where we base decisions on the information most readily available to us. This is dangerous, because we are far more likely to hear the show-off winner’s stories than those of the embarrassed losers. When entrepreneurs or business people think about big ideas, they need to temper their enthusiasm with the realisation that the logic they are using is disproportionally informed by positive data points.

The ultimate repository of ideas, the US Patent and Trademark Office or USPTO, has issued over 6 million patents (ideas) since 1790. Only 4% of these have made any money. While some were filed to block competitors rather than make a profit, the rest were intended to make money but lost money in fees instead. Sensible people engage in this foolishness because a miniscule number of patents make lottery type money for their owners. By the time the patent on the drug Lipitor expired in 2011, it had earned an estimated $125 Billion for Pfizer. With jackpots like these, it’s not hard to see why good people give into temptation.

While success obviously does require great ideas, it is important to remember that the idea is not the success. Smart entrepreneurs treat ideas like commodities. They have a veracious hunger for ideas and put all their ideas together into an informed vision. They convert that vision into a strategy and they work relentlessly to make that strategy happen. They learn from their mistakes and are always open to new ideas.

Whether you need 10 ideas in your lifetime to be successful or 100 a day will be revealed to you in time. If you treat the first one that comes along like a deceitful gold-digging parasite out to distract you from better ideas, then you won’t go too far wrong.

I have no idea … #38 #cong18


In the beginning…
I’m up to my eyes, emptying ideas out of my sack of distractions. Travelling to Cong in the spirit of a leaky bucket. Trusting you to offer me too many ideas for my own good.

If you have a feather of an idea, let it blow in the breeze as you shoot. Be light-hearted, leave your brain at home, let your imagination out of prison.

Neither of us are a figment not a segment of the ONE GRAND IDEA. Before our idea were our feelings. Contrary to every idea we’ve ever shared, the idea is secondary. Our emotional health is primary.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Keep your ideas short – in case they take too long to express.
  2. Kill your favourite ideas – that way lies salvation.
  3. The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of bad ideas.
  4. Stop thinking ideas – start feeling ideas.

About Paul O'Mahony:

Mature man living in Cork since 2005. Son of bookshop owner, grew up in Limerick, university in Dublin, 30 years in UK. Grandfather. Member of Toastmasters International.
Poet since 1995. Blogger since 2005. Big communicator via Internet. Huge into “social audio” – uses Anchor, Limor, Audioboom, Periscope, Twitter… Profession: marketing.
Loves: talking, opera, golf, black sole & tuna, gin, apples, cooking, ironing, writing, CongRegation, Eoin, Chicago, Italy

Contacting Paul O'Mahony:

You can contact Paul by email , follow him on Twitter and see his work on Paul O’Mahony (personal site) and Show and Tell Communications  (business site)

By Paul O’Mahony.

“If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” – Albert Einstein

I hope to hear a lot of absurd ideas at Cong – not just during huddles – because I think every idea is a disguised hope.

“An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.” – Oscar Wilde

All my life I’ve lived dangerously, on the edge of owning an idea – even my conception was dangerous.

“Ideas won’t keep. Something must be done about them.” – Alfred North Whitehead

There’s nothing like stale ideas to keep publishers & booksellers going. I was born among stale ideas & ate plenty of bread & butter pudding.

“A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow.” – Ovid

I only spawn crude ideas – crudités become me.  I hope I won’t yawn at Cong.

“No grand idea was ever born in a conference, but a lot of foolish ideas have died there.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Birth is overrated.

“An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.” – Charles Dickens

I’d like to talk with people who speak to themselves.

“Everyone is in love with their own ideas.” – Carl Jung

I only rent ideas, don’t believe in owning them. I love women.

“Why is it I always get my best ideas while shaving?” – Albert Einstein

My most satisfying ideations come when I’m shaving away superfluous verbiage.

“One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

I’m always in two minds – a eclectic Taoist.

“A mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm will go further than a great idea that inspires no one.” – Mary Kay Ash

To go further than Cong is unnecessary – it may be attractive but it’s not essential for my wellbeing.

“We often refuse to accept an idea merely because the tone of voice in which it has been expressed is unsympathetic to us.”- Friedrich Nietzsche

Atonality matters.

“Once upon a time I had an idea. It lived with a wicked stepfather in a crooked house full of children who screamed for attention.” – Paul O’Mahony

You have to put your children to bed – or out to grass. Your best poems have to be buried like acorns – those that rot turn to ballast.

IDEAS ARE HAPPENINGS – here’s evidence:

The Story Behind Big Ideas #37 #cong18


Stories spark ideas because they’re about problems that must be solved. So if you’re looking for that next big idea, figure out what the world needs fixing.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. “There are no bad ideas, just poor execution.”
  2. Stories and ideas have a symbiotic relationship.
  3. Problem. Idea. Solution. That’s literally the story of our lives.
  4. The truth about fish and chips… for batter or worse.

About Brian Mac Intyre:

Brian Mac Intyre is a journalist and screenwriter. He also owns, which helps companies make better connections with clients, customers… and even their own staff. In addition, he coaches start-ups in how to harness the incredible power of storytelling for great investor pitches.

Contacting Brian Mac Intyre:

You can contact Brian by email and see his work on

By Brian Mac Intyre

It’s 2011 and I’m at the Dublin International Film Festival where I see Irish crime fiction writer John Connolly sitting two seats away from me.

Given the chance, I like to pick a creative person’s brain to find out what golden nuggets of wisdom I just might learn from them.

So I introduced myself as a fellow journalist (Connolly had worked at The Irish Times) and soon enough we got onto the subject of ideas and what makes a good one.

Journalists usually have a pretty sound idea of what makes a good story.

So I asked him: “But what if your idea’s just bad in the first place?”

And he said something I’ll never forget: “There are no bad ideas, just poor execution.”

Ten million copies later, he should know.

But his quote, I hope, also illustrates the symbiotic relationship between stories and ideas. That’s because they’ve both got to do with problem solving.

Stories are usually about people with problems. In the world of film, for example, Luke is trying to defeat the Evil Empire, ET is attempting to phone home… and the Muppets will do whatever it takes to save Christmas.

So the survival, or existence, of someone or something is always at stake. And these are problems all these people need to solve… by having a good idea of how to fix them.

Long, long ago, when the first of our forebears was eaten by a sabre-toothed tiger, you can be pretty certain the rest of the tribe immediately learned to avoid big cats.

But given their main problem was survival – as it is for all of us – then you can also bet that at least one of them had the brainwave to go hunting when their prey was resting.

Problem. Idea. Solution. It’s a pattern that endlessly repeats itself over time.

For instance, it’s commonly held that fish and chips were invented by the British. But in this case a ‘one and one’ does not, in fact, equal two.

Without fried fish, this combo just wouldn’t be the same. And it turns out this part of the epicurean equation was invented by Jews fleeing religious persecution in 15th century Portugal.

Many of those Sephardic Jews, who relocated to England, took with them culinary treasures, one of which was Peshkado frito, commonly known as cod or haddock fried in flour.

It had to be fried on the Friday night in preparation for the Sabbath as cooking was banned on Saturday under the Mosaic laws.

It’s thought the batter preserved the fish so that it could be eaten cold the next day without compromising the flavour. Problem. Idea. Solution.

In another context, 40 years ago, American management consultant Marilyn Loden was taking part in a panel discussion about women’s aspirations in the workplace.

She noticed that the female panelists focused on how women behaved in a self-deprecating way and allegedly carried a poor self-image.

She recalls that it was a struggle for her to sit quietly as these criticisms were being aired.

While she agreed that it was hard for women to progress beyond middle management level, she said there were invisible barriers to their advancement that had everything to do with culture, and nothing to do with personal issues.

So she coined a phrase for this on the spot, calling it an “invisible glass ceiling”. And she said this was the main reason there weren’t more female CEOs.

That idea, partly sparked from the story of her own experience on that panel, has proven to be one of the most talked about ever since.

And finally, going back to films, some can ignite ideas that literally make the world a better and safer place for all of us.

In Stanley Kubrick’s satire Dr Strangelove, a mad general sparks a path to nuclear holocaust that politicians and other generals must try to stop.

In a key scene, one character uses a payphone to call the Pentagon to provide them with access codes, but doesn’t have enough change. He fails to contact them… resulting in nuclear annihilation.

That scene was later screened for the US Congress who collectively thought it raised real worries about communication blocks during a crisis.

There and then they decided that access codes to nuclear weapons should not be limited to just one federal official.

So if you’re looking for that next big idea, find a problem to solve first.

We Must Make Great Ideas Safe to Follow #36 #cong18


Ideas can be split into two categories: safe and dangerous. A Safe Idea is one that is readily accepted by the status quo.
A Dangerous Idea is one that challenges the status quo’s paradigm of seeing themselves and the world. The ability to thrive depends on our capacity to find the courage necessary to follow our greatest ideas.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Following safe ideas leads to regret but the pay-off is social survival.
  2. Following dangerous Ideas leads to fulfilment and thriving.
  3. Feeling a sense of belonging in a group of two or more people who passionately believe in our idea is crucial for successfully bringing the idea from acorn to oak.
  4. The greatest ideas have created world change through first meeting the need of human belonging.

About Mark Usher:

I’m the life-coach for men, chief spiritual maverick in residence, philosopher, vlogger and revolutionary soul at

Contacting Mark Usher:

You can contact Mark by email

By Mark Usher.

I believe the future of the world has never depended more on great ideas getting from acorn stage to fully grown magnificent oak stage. Indeed the greatest commodity of the world is great ideas.

I believe ideas roughly fall into two categories A. Safe Ideas B. Dangerous Ideas

A Safe Idea is one that is readily accepted by the status quo.

A Dangerous Idea is one that challenges the status quo’s paradigm of seeing themselves and the world.

What if all major possibilities of radical progress in our own lives, those of our companies and for humanity itself depended on dangerous ideas?  You see a breakthrough idea can’t come via a safe idea. Only a dangerous idea has the capacity to “breakthrough” a current level of understanding to land upon an entirely new possible course of action.

Yet when people are asked to describe their number one greatest regret in life, they almost unanimously report something they did not do a.k.a. a great idea they did not act on.

I propose here now that the reason so many of us fail to follow our greatest ideas is that we perceive the danger too much.

But why such a feeling of danger?

We have a biological intense need to feel like we belong to a group. We fear opinions of others because not so long ago in our evolution, if the opinions of others went against us we could be ousted from our tribe. The cost of this happening could literally be a death sentence.

Literally speaking, social psychologists have found that our need to belong is greater than our need for physical and emotional safety.

Let’s Play!

To demonstrate this dynamic, play with me for a moment.

Imagine holding an elastic on near full stretch between your two index fingers, one hovering over the other in mid-air. The top finger represents the Magnitude of Idea on a scale of dangerous (high up) to safe(low down).

The lower finger represents our inner courage to successfully act on to completion our idea. Yet, holding the two fingers stationary in mid-air creates too much build up of tension. It’s like trying to hold your pee in indefinitely…somethings gotta give!

Play with me some more. Let’s say there are two choices. One is to lower the magnitude of your idea from dangerous to safe. The other is to rise up your courage.

Most people drop the magnitude of the idea to meet their fundamental need to belong.

Downgrade your idea, you experience regret but you survive.

Upgrade your courage you experience fulfilment and you thrive.

A Bridge to Safety
So we need to build a safe bridge that gets people from idea formation to idea manifestation, from acorn to oak. The safe bridge that gets a person with a dangerously great idea across the River of Regret to the land of full manifestion of the great idea is built on the answer of one question:

How do I overcome the fear of opinions of others?

But if the need to belong is the poison it also paradoxically is the antidote. Let me explain.
Of course there are many different ways but I want to introduce you all to what I believe is the single greatest strategy for overcoming the fear of opinions of others.

There was research done in social conformity. A group of people were given two pages. One had one vertical line drawn on it. The other page had three lines titled A, B and C. The people were asked which line A,B or C was the same as the single line on the first page. The answer was obvious. Yet the twist is that the subject being experimented on was at the end of the line to give a clear, answered response. All the others answered a scripted similar incorrect answer. The majority of subjects followed with their answer in conformity with the group consensus.

The interesting thing is this. When the research was repeated with the addition of one person who gave a scripted correct answer in the middle of the majority giving scripted incorrect answers, this one supporting voice dramatically reduced the impulse to conform.

The key bit of evidence here is that all it takes is one supporting voice for us to go with our inner idea of what is right. It effectively makes a dangerous idea into a safe idea.

Mastering the Challenge of Acorn to Oak
Unawareness causes us to conform by default with the status quo. The greatest counter-strategy is connecting with one or more people who believe our idea is normal. Maybe they themselves have done what you propose to do, or they simply hold the space to allow you feel powerful in your idea. Fidel found Che. Barrack found Michelle. Thelma found Louise  Once we feel we have a group where we belong, we will find the courage to follow any idea.

As a business or organisation your ability to thrive in such times of rapid change depends entirely on your ability to harvest the full power of great ideas. It is imperative that you take radical action on creating a truly safe culture where great, challenging, different, wild and potentially off-the-wall ideas are made to feel home. As all innovation and creativity experts know, the easiest path to great ideas come from developing lots of ideas.

One Last Thought
A revolutionary uprising of human magnificence is needed now like never before to meet the challenges and opportunities we collectively face. It could be that this revolution takes fire when we allow the greatest ideas become the safest ideas to follow?…

Is it time to Brainstorm with Google? #35 #cong18


We are seeing technology disrupt and fundamentally change our society. Soon AI will be able to suggest ideas based on insight. It will change how we see creativity, but ideas will be a precious commodity. Where do ideas come from now?

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Technology has remapped society
  2. Our notion of creativity and ideas need to change
  3. AI will one day suggest ideas based on data
  4. Ideas will be a currency that we need to invest in now to avoid disruption

About Cyril Moloney:

Cyril Moloney is a Director at Teneo, specialising in technology, with nearly 20 years in technology communications in Ireland and internationally, he has seen technology go from the back room to the good room.

Contacting Cyril Moloney:

You can contact Cyril by email , connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.

By Cyril Moloney.

Voltaire once wrote ‘originality is nothing but judicious imitation’. In an age of data driven insights, iterations and reboots, are we in danger of losing the creative spark?

In a famous TED talk, Sir Ken Robinson said that we needed to re-evaluate education as we needed to teach and prepare the next generations for industries that did not exist. That was 2006;

  • Twitter was founded
  • iPhone was nearly a year away
  • Bebo was popular in Ireland
  • Facebook was two years old and was finally opening itself to the public
  • Google had just acquired YouTube
  • Cambridge Analytica was still five years from being founded

Fast forward to today and we are seeing more disruption at an ever-quicker pace. But are we seeing the ideas needed to adapt? Everything around us today, ranging from culture to consumer products, is a product of ideas coupled with intelligence.

Algorithmic Intelligence
With the coming of Artificial Intelligence (AI) over the next few years, will this be a milestone that will force us to embrace creativity and up our ideas game? At the most basic level AI needs data to analyse and will derive insights based on what has already happened. As it develops its ability to deliver insights at an exponential rate, is there room for ideas, or will we use AI as a crutch to create, safe in the knowledge that we reduce risk of that idea failing?

However, one lesson to bear in mind is that Big Data is not automatically Big Insight. Data can hide biases, be skewed or be incomplete. It may not represent the bigger picture or give you an insight that you can build on.

Ideas as Currency
Robinson highlighted that creativity is ‘the process of having original ideas that have value’
As AI and other new technologies infuse into our collective psyche, we have no concept of how it will change our society, our working and personal lives. All we do know is that ideas will likely become more valuable than money. We can bank on AI transforming job sectors and roles. With that will come disruption, but also the opportunity to create new industries around it. If you look at the car, that not only made horse drawn carriages obsolete, it created roads, service stations, and remapped societies and human behaviour in less than a century.

To that end, we will need to fundamentally reassess how we encourage, foster and support new idea generation. It may be time to rip up things we thought were certain, as we may only have a few years to adapt ideas to an ever-changing reality that will create more questions and enable new realities.

A recent Microsoft and EY report highlighted that Ireland was beginning to ramp up its AI activity, and needed investment and support. Now is the time for government, academia, business and the artist to get together and generate ideas for a society that may not exist yet and help address new challenges and opportunities that have yet to pass.

In 2004, a book called “The First Idea” suggested the development of our higher-level symbolic thinking, language, and social skills could not be explained by genes and natural selection but depend on cultural practices learned anew by each generation over millions of years, dating back to primate and prehuman cultures.

We rapidly need to create a culture of ideas and creativity if not, we run the risk of judicious imitation, something AI can already do.

creativity wants to flow #34 #cong18


Creativity wants to flow – taking time to observe and understand the flow of creative process – what is happening and where it wants to go next – not only generates new ideas, but ensures those ideas are useful and appropriate to what you want to think about. here are some useful tips…

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Creativity unfolds, like, say, a flower. There is a rhythm and a sequence that can be observed.
  2. To have good ideas, I make space – in my day, in my notebook, in my mind.
  3. Intuition is a compass. It’s the thread that guides you through the labyrinth of creative possibility
  4. Thinking about idea-having as a kind of dance reminds me that I have a body. Getting my body activated by dancing, moving and playing mobilises whole resources of brain power that we are usually inclined to overlook or ignore.

About Jeffrey Gormly:

Artist, Author, Thinker, Collaborator
Current research topics:
Creative organisation – how we can unlock creativity in our collective life
Creativity for health – strategies for normalising creative self-expression
Creativity for freedom – making room for creative diversity in society

Contacting Jeffrey Gormly:

You can contact Jeffrey by email and see his work on Rice on Hydra

By Jeffrey Gormly.

Creativity wants to flow, so I shall let my thoughts go, unedited. A one time one take streaming of ideas about ideas. Not just my ideas – I’ve been collecting ideas about ideas for a long time now.

Creativity wants to flow – this much I intuitively know. It’s why we call it the opposite when we say so and so is blocked. So what Mihaly has said about flow applies to having ideas – it can be practiced, it can be observed, and it gives pleasure.

Creativity unfolds, like, say, a flower – perfect image of creativity. There is a rhythm and a sequence that can be observed. There is a process at work, and there is a language of process, that can be learned, even if each instance, each idea, is unique in and of itself.

Process can be thought of, in the words of Arnold Mindell: “what is happening … and what wants to happen” – which suggests that if you pay attention – the right kind of attention, and enough of it – you can maybe see what is happening, and anticipate what wants to happen next.

This is my way. My tao. As artist, author, thinker, maker, leader, follower, I put hard hours into observing what is happening, really happening, so that I can make the lightest, most effective, most precise intervention possible. I want to be precise, I want to be economical, I want to be clear, and I want to be ecological – leave the lightest footprint.

To have good ideas, I make room. I don’t know where they come from, but those original, interesting, context-breaking ideas can’t emerge if there’s no space for them to breathe. So I make space – in my day, in my notebook, in my mind. I stare at a blank page, I drink my coffee, I listen to music, I take time.
What kind of an idea am I looking to receive? Am I open and willing to take what comes to me? Can I accept the universe’s generosity?

I lay out my territory. I am a hunter, stalking a breakthrough moment. I am a gardener cultivating a fertile ground for creative thought. I think about what I want to think about. For instance, thinking about ideas, I’m thinking about creativity, flow, process. I’m thinking about the role of the thinker. I’m thinking about gardening. And hunting. I’m thinking about the relationship and difference between my inner world and outer, and how ideas bridge that difference.

These thoughts are what chaos theory calls strange attractors – strong ideas that act like gravitational bodies, stars and planets that pull the random movements of my mind in different directions. So that over time my thoughts start to find pathways within and between all these strange strong attractors, without ever settling on just one. With luck, this movement starts to feel like a kind of dance.

Dance implies flow. Dance is a source of pleasure. Dance means creative flexibility. These are all good things.

Dance is also a good way to inhabit the not-knowing chaos and mystery that I believe is the birthplace of all ideas.

Before you have an idea, you have to have no idea!

You can have clues though. Clues point to ideas. That ability of humans to find a way through mystery, doubt (there will always be doubt!) and the thicket of experience is what I think of as intuition.

Intuition is a compass. It’s the thread that guides you through the labyrinth, a golden thread you discover one step at a time. You can only feel it, and you’ve got to trust it, even when trusting it exposes you to potential ridicule, disbelief, misunderstanding from others. That’s what makes a safe space so important.

And this is a good time to remember that the space you need to follow intuition into the labyrinth of creative process, is the space you can give others to do the same. Solidarity between creative thinkers! Let’s give each other space to explore, to experiment, to expand, to be wrong. Let’s practice the receptivity to each other’s creative expression that we all crave for ourselves.

Thinking about idea having as a kind of dance reminds me that I have a body. And, as Ken Robinson reminds us, that body is not just a delivery system for my brain! It is a thinking feeling communicating engine of creative sensing, making and expressing.

Did you know there are as many neurons in your gut as in your brain? Trust that ‘gut feeling’, right? That’s intuition.

Did you know the latest research describes the immune system as a ‘floating brain’?

So for me, getting my body activated by dancing, moving and playing mobilises whole resources of brain power that we are usually inclined to overlook or ignore.

Being in a state of dance is crucial for when the moment of truth arrives and an idea finally emerges. Running with the idea – trying to keep up with it as it flies ahead of me – takes constant adjustment. Often the idea is unexpected. It never comes when and where I anticipated. And it won’t hang around forever waiting for me to be ready to concentrate on it.

As I follow the idea’s progress through the world, trying to honour its integrity, communicate it authentically, and observe it changing and growing, I must keep on my toes, keep moving with it, stay flexible and ready. I feel like a surfer – the wave is the same wave, but the wave constantly changes.

So I try to keep my balance, I dedicate to staying with the wave – the idea – all the way.

All the way – to wherever it takes me.

Failing, to Think Straight #33 #cong18


Ideas are neither good nor bad nor even stupid. When we suspend our judgements on the thoughts in our heads that are ideas and afford them the attention they deserve, we can start to capture and process these ideas and convert them into actions. We can further develop our creativity in developing out ideas by giving ourselves the permission to fail intelligently when we try out new ideas.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Ideas are funny old things, they can be wonderful and stupid at the same time so it’s important that we suspend judgement.
  2. Literally everything we know originated as an idea
  3. Capture all ideas as soon as possible after the come to us and review all ideas together at least once a week
  4. Decide on, and carry out at least one action for each of your top 3/5 ideas giving yourself permission to fail

About Bernard Joyce:

Bernard is a founder of New Paradigms Consulting, co-founder of Geodesign Ireland and MSc Student in Management for Sustainable Development

Contacting Bernard Joyce:

You can contact Bernard by email, follow him on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn or read his adventures on GeoDesign

By Bernard Joyce.

Did you ever get the most wonderful idea, just out of the blue, and you get so excited that you want to drop everything and work on this idea to fruition. You rush to get home to make that phone call, send that email. You can’t wait to see how excited everybody will be. “Wow! Why has nobody ever thought of this before? This is a gamechanger” but then you start to think about the idea, “Ok, it’s not completely unique, but still”, “Well, I might just hold off on sharing the idea with anyone just yet, it does sound a bit over the top, alright”. By the time the car pulls in to the driveway, I am thinking, “What a stupid idea!”

Ideas are funny old things. They are not stupid. They are neither good and nor bad. They are just ideas, thoughts that come into our heads, often in response to a particular problem that we (or somebody else) is trying to solve but more often they are completely random thoughts that come from nowhere.

Are these ideas worthy of my attention? Yes, certainly. The wheel, the smartphone and the 99’ cone all started of as one of these thoughts.
The trick is really in how we give attention to our ideas. Like a baby crying, our ideas are often trying to tell us something, but we are not quite sure what it is. It takes a little patience and understanding.

An important first step therefore, is to suspend all judgements on ideas. There are no stupid or great or bad ideas.

Freed from the shackle of judgment, it is really important to capture all ideas. The challenge here is that ideas often come when we are least expecting them, often on a run or a walk, maybe while driving. By the time we get to note our ideas, we’ve already passed judgment, or we’ve forgotten them. It is important therefore to make capturing our ideas easy, one way is to carry a small notebook perhaps called ‘My Ideas Book’ and record every single idea that crops into my head. If we are on the move, use or phone to record a voice memo or capture a photograph. Evernote is really useful for this. The benefits of capturing ideas immediately are that we don’t need to think anymore about for the time being, freeing our mind to think of other things or to just be ‘present in the moment.’ Quantity is more important than quality at this stage so try to come up with as many ideas as possible.

The next step is, to set aside a time each week to review all ideas, get them onto paper or mind map or whatever works for us. Is there a pattern? Are my ideas trying to tell me something about myself? Watch out for ideas that keep coming back, nagging us for our attention! Are there ideas that are easy to try out straight away? Are there ideas that will stretch me? Are there ideas that get me excited?

The final crucial step is to TAKE ACTION on your top 3/5 ideas, there and then. Be prepared to fail and do so in a planned way ‘intelligent fast failure’ as opposed to ‘slow stupid failure’ (Matson 1996) or as Samuel Beckett so eloquently puts it “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter.  Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”(Beckett 1995)

In actioning our ideas, we nurture our creativity thinking processes so that now we know what the babies in our head are saying.

Beckett, S. 1995. Nohow On: Company, Ill Seen Ill Said, Worstward Ho.
Matson, J. V. 1996. Innovate or Die : A Personal Perspective on the Art of Innovation. Paradigm Press.

Bring Out Your Ideas and Move Them On #32 #cong18


I have very often found myself thinking about an idea and removing the more extreme parts of it to make it more presentable. Then finding when I explain it to someone, they agree with me, and also the parts I had toned down . Of course I agree with them, but come away thinking, “Damn, I wasn’t radical enough. The idea was fine the first time, and I could have gone even further”.

The problem is not shortage of ideas; it is getting them out into circulation. And leave space for the next idea to come forward.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Dont water down your ideas
  2. Extreme can be positive
  3. Leave space for the next idea
  4. Express your ideas

About Conor O'Brien:

I come from a tradition of cooperative and local involvement and has always been involved in community and farming organisations. I am now a director of Mitchelstown Credit Union; involved with a local group using walks on the Knockmealdowns and the Galtees to build the community, and develop it; and with a friend who wants to develop a food-growing low cost of living system so that a person with a project is not weighed with unsustainable living costs.

Contacting Conor O'Brien:

You can contact Conor by email or follow him on Twitter.

By Conor O’Brien.

I have a friend Seamus Duggan, retired now, who was the local mechanic cum blacksmith. Not the blacksmith with a forge, that time was well gone, but with the electric arc welder. In arc welding the two bit’s of iron are connected to the negative pole of the welder, while the positive pole held a special rod that melted in the electric arc produced when it was held over the negative iron. The temperature of the arc was high enough to melt the pieces of metal and the rod for that second in that spot until one moved it on, leaving the molten magma to cool and fuse the two metals together.

Seamus was a good mechanic, but he was gifted with the welder, a brute of a green Essex machine. Hard work, but eased with a few, or more, pints in the pub across the way. The view was that he could calibrate his intake so that the following morning the drink induced shake in his hands had the correct waviness for a few hours welding until his head regained it’s composure.
One evening during silage time Mick O’Brien came on towing a tractor that had broken the half-shaft in the back axle. Of course the silage took precedence over the pub. Seamus went at it, got the cab lifted enough to get at that side of the tractor, wheel off, hub off, and pulled out the broken side of the half-shaft hoping that the break was up close and he could grip the remainder. This time, no; the shaft was broken just at the splines, way deep inside. The whole back axle would have to be stripped; an all-nighter. He went and got the half-shaft out of a scrap tractor out the back. The back axle was still looking at him, so he sat down on the wheel and lit a cigarette, and another when Marie brought out a cup of tea to him. The broken stub was going nowhere.

Just as he got up, he thought of the welder. He had never heard of it being done, but a bad welder is always getting the welding rod stuck in the cooling magma especially on cold metal; and a welding rod would be long enough to reach the stub. Could he do it deliberately?
He practiced a bit on the broken shaft until he had got the right technique of jamming the rod on to it and flicking the power on and off fast enough to make the magma, but only enough to stick the rod. Then he carefully pushed the rod onto the stub, flicked the power and Halleluiah, the rod stuck to the stub. A tap on the stub to break any fusing to the gears, a gentle easing and out it came. Job done. The whole thing was back together in forty five minutes.

I was over in the pub that night. We all knew about the tractor and none of us were expecting to see Seamus, so when he came in, water still dripping off his hair from a quick wash and a smile on his face we knew something had happened.
We got the story and more like it; there were acres and fields cut for silage that night, machines broken and fixed, reputations made and unmade.

Later when the place quietened and Seamus and I were chatting, he turned to me and said something I will always remember. “Conor,” he said, “There’s no point in being crazy if you cannot show it”. It was the smartest thing said that night.
He is right; bring out your ideas and move them on.

Ideas for Sale #31 #cong18


Some of us don’t know when to stop, when tempted to give life to yet another enticing idea.  We ignore the fact that above our heads are enough spinning plates on sticks already.  So, we end up with more than we can cope with.  We watch in deperation as some of the plates begin to wobble.

Passing on each plate (like a baton to a relay-runner who stretches out an upturned hand) is what we dream of.

Is there a way to “sell ideas”, to hand them over, to ensure a legacy we can proudly leave behind?

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. It ain’t easy to restrict our creativity, to focus.
  2. There may be no such thing as a “successful handover” of one of our ideas to someone else
  3. Waiting to be rescued (from a surfeit of good ideas) is not to be recommended
  4. ‘Licensing’ may be the only viable means of ensuring our tried and tested innovations have an impact – out there in the world as well as in our bank accounts

About Alec Taylor:

Alec has emigrated five times from his native Ireland.  He currently splits his time between a house in the north of Portugal and a flat in Vienna.

He has worked in Radio, TV, Corporate Video, Now he concentrates on Coaching/Training/Consultancy in Communication Skills and Creativity, mainly in Europe.  He works in the private and public sectors, with NGOs and politicians.

He believes we are all multi-talented and can benefit hugely by igniting our hidden talents. He also believes we need – all of us, now more than ever – to become politicians in our own way, to hold communities together rather than let them be divided, to close the wealth gap (not allow it to be widened further), to actively promote and spread the practice of open, inclusive democracy.

Contacting Alec Taylor:

You can contact Alec by email or view his work on AlecTaylor.

By Alec Taylor.

Welcome to my greenhouse.  All the potted plants you see around me represent ideas that have grown from a seed. The plants are healthy.  I keep them watered.  They’re already through R&D.  The trouble is that they will soon outgrow the pots they’re in, or they will shrivel and die.

That’s the challenge for those of us who – in our sixties and seventies – were flooded with ideas that beguiled us, sat outside the door and wailed at us until we let them in, seduced us in their boudoir of delights until we embraced them.  It was heady stuff.

Now, we’re stuck with them which is less heady, but deeply satisfying nonetheless.  The challenge is to engage a younger generation, to entice them into the greenhouse.  To leave behind a legacy.

On a personal note, for some of us, these ideas represented candles in the darkness.  We kept lighting them to balance the sadness and the isolation.  It turns out that trauma can be a potent fertilizer of ideas which, in turn, provide a powerful therapy.

Every idea starts as a vision of what could be.  Sometimes, I call it ‘the prize’.  It’s visible, a scene in a movie.  There’s nothing more thrilling.  It’s not quite an hallucination. Unreal and real at the same time.  Graspable.

In my greenhouse there are nine potted plants right now.  Ten if you count the networking event called “K18” (bringing together people from as many different sectors as possible and running innovation workshops in between the chat, amidst the food and the drink, in a basement in Vienna’s 18thdistrict).

Three earn money, good money, already:

  • a training, coaching and consultancy company called “Alec Taylor Learning” (offering Communication Skills and Creativity),
  • a video-production company called “Memoirs On Camera” (personal and corporate video-memoirs as well as knowledge- transfer memoirs),
  • a property-marketing website called “Hidden Sunshine” (‘online dating’ for property-owners and prospective buyers).

Two years ago, another project called “Field-grey and Khaki” almost shot through the roof of the greenhouse when a leading person in the Film and TV industry in London asked me: “Have you got the next seven years of your life to devote to this?  We want to see a movie made about this German man who served in the Kaiser’s army in WW1 and the British army in WW2.”  The leading person’s subsequent ill health sadly left this plant in its pot, waiting to be discovered all over again.  That’s showbiz.

What would I do if I won the lottery? I know what I’d do.  I’d take the potted plants out of the greenhouse, find a building and call it THE IGNITION INSTITUTE.  I’d fill it with multi-talented people and give them each a potted plant to tend, to grow.  I’d turn up from time time and sit around….until someone came over and asked for advice about getting the best out of the plant in their particular pot. I’d be glad to help them.