Like gold, Great Ideas do not come so neat and polished, weighed and certified. They rarely come in a form that is eye-catching, attractive, and immediately beautiful. Instead, they are found in bits and pieces — tiny nuggets hiding among the sediment, submerged under water, and buried beneath the earth.
Finding them requires patience, intentional work, and a willingness to collect far more material than you need because you never know where the next great nugget is hiding. Far more often than not, what you will find are only the tiniest building blocks of an idea. Gathering these pieces together and synthesizing them into something more sizable, weighty, and recognizable as a good idea requires even more work.
Like diamonds, Great Ideas are not easily recognized in their native state. They are often misshapen, embedded within a larger collection of bad ideas, and not readily useable.
From the raw material, Great Ideas emerge after much shaping, cutting, and polishing. Yes, valuable as every tenth of a carat of a diamond is, the value of the gem is greatly enhanced through the process of cutting away pieces that are no less “diamond” than that which remains. Likewise, crafting ideas into Great Ideas requires the same willingness to curate, edit, and cut away pieces that feel very valuable.
None of this is easy, quick, or obvious. It requires a willingness to get dirty sifting through strange ideas, bad ideas, and even bizarre ideas. As a leader, if you believe finding Great Ideas is key to your organization’s growth and success, then you must commit to spending the time, material, resources, and people in pursuit of them. That commitment requires a firm resolve in the face of an often unjustifiable expense, as the ROI for this process is undeniably terrible.
Until it isn’t.
And if you think finding Great Ideas is simply a function of brute force applied to the sparkling gems easily visible in the cave around you, you’re living in a fantasy.