Where do ideas come from?

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Tommydickson

I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot recently. In a way, it is the ‘holy grail’ of innovation, one that many innovation books are trying to answer, or help you with – if you can understand where ideas come from, and refine that, so you get better ideas more often, then one can win notoriety/fame and fortune.

As with many things however, it’s just not that easy. Coming up with ‘good ideas’ is an art. Sometimes we think they ‘pop’ into our heads, and we don’t quite know how one minute we had no idea, and the next we are empowered by a thought that we want to develop and share with others.

From reading around on this, and thinking about it, one clear message appears to come out – ideas are often (but not exclusively) not things that come quickly, from a single person in a single moment (as many people believe, in a sudden ‘Eureka’ moment, or having an apple fall on your head), but rather ‘grow’ over a period of time from a network (it’s only the ‘realization/awareness’ of the idea, the ‘connecting of the dots’, that appears sudden).

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Thoughts on ideas, brainstorming, facilitation, and crowdsourcing

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/DrAfter123

Having an “idea” is a uniquely human thing.  It can be fun, beautiful, empowering, motivating, exciting, artistic, valuable. *

Through personal reflection, brainstorming, facilitation and crowdsourcing ideas can be leveraged and improved upon, to the point that the outcome is far better than the initial idea.

Ideas come from creative thinking, considering the previously unconsidered, often referred to as ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking or ‘strategic’ thinking (albeit strategy in many businesses seems, disappointingly, often not to be that creative).

I enjoy the creative process of originating and developing ideas, and so wanted to pull together some thoughts on this.

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Current interests

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/DrAfter123

Beyond work related topics, there are a number of other topics that also interest me at the moment, including:

  1. Ideas, innovation and creativity, both individually and collectively, including crowdsourcing
  2. Disruptive technology and disruptive business strategies
  3. Social media developments, and how they impact communication and collaboration
  4. Globalisation and Capitalism 2.0 (or 3.0, etc. – whatever you want to call it …)
  5. ‘Popular sociology/psychology’ (eg, topics raised by Malcolm Gladwell and others)

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Are you frustraTED?


I’ve already written two blog posts on TED (Technology Entertainment and Design), the global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, whereby the talks from those conferences, as well as franchise TEDx conferences are made available for free viewing online (“TED Talks. We listen.” and “My TEDxperience“), as well as having referred to it in a number of other blog posts. I like TED.

TED offers so many good ideas – indeed it’s tag line is ‘ideas worth spreading’.

Our mission: Spreading ideas.

We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.

So we spread those ideas, what next? Do those ideas turn into reality? Perhaps not always, and maybe that can lead to some frustration.

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Happy birthday Blog! (reflections on my first year blogging)

My blog, Matt Benson’s Musings, recently passed its one year anniversary (April 17). Hooray!

This made me think that it would be a good time to reflect: Why do I blog? How has my blog developed over the last year? In this post I address these questions.

I wrote most of this post around the time of the anniversary of my blog (and a bit more, which I’ve subsequently cropped and which might be part of a future post) – a discussion during a dinner party last night prompted me to finish this post and ‘publish’ it.

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TED talks. We listen.

TED is a not-for-profit organization which invites speakers (who are sometimes called “TEDsters”) to speak about their ideas at conferences (TED talks), with the individual speeches, each limited to 18 minutes, being video recorded and made available over the internet, for free download/streaming (on www.ted.com).

Speakers are a mixture of well known individuals (politicians, business leaders, media celebrities, etc.) and other less well known individuals (eg, academics, or simply individuals who have researched a particular topic and have an interesting view with regards to the future).

TED stands for ‘Technology, Entertainment and Design‘.  Today however it seems to be broader than that.  TED’s catchphrase is “Ideas worth spreading” (its mission: “Spreading ideas”). As such, it encourages creativity, innovation and thought, as well as communication and debate. One can learn more about TED on the TED.com ‘About TED page‘ or on Wikipedia’s TED page.

In February 2002, Chris Anderson, founder, curator and custodian of TED, described the core values of TED as including “truth, curiosity, diversity, […], and the pursuit of interest”.  He also called it:

the mental equivalent of the full body massage

The TED Talk videos are in my view an excellent source of informative, lively, passionate, and enjoyable discussion. They epitomize hope, optimism, and determination. I encourage anyone who is not familiar to give TED a try. I’ve listed some of my favorite TED talks at the end of this post, but each person has different interests, so you might find it better just to start at www.ted.com.

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