Ideas are over-rated, perhaps at the cost of those who actually go ahead and do stuff.
4 Key Takeaways:
- Ideas are everywhere and don’t warrant a pat on the back.
- Ideas alone get us nowhere.
- Quickly discarding the vast majority of ideas is critical.
- 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:
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.