Where do good ideas come from? For any idea to turn from simply an idea to a “good” idea, what properties must it have? This has popped into my mind recently because, after connecting the dots between a few seemingly independent concepts, I’ve formulated an app idea that will be the the next big thing. Or, am I just fooling myself?
Too often, I find that it’s easy to be led astray by an idea that has received little validation. There have been moments during my professional career where, in an attempt to address a problem during a deep dive, I’ve missed the forest for the trees. My stomach drops when, after explaining my ravings to my peers, their response is something along the lines of:
Well, why don’t you just do <something that takes a fraction of the time or effort and solves the same problem>”?
Now, sometimes their advice is not always sound. For example, there could be additional context that they’re missing which would not make their solution viable, discovered only because I had already tried their suggestion and failed. Even in situations that I’m rescued from overthinking as a result of someone else’s perspective on the problem, I find myself defensive for just a moment until I finally reassure myself that an attack on my idea is not an attack on me personally. Perhaps this defensiveness stems from the uncertainty of whether someone else can fully understand the problem in the same way I have.
It’s with this mentality that I question about the validity of an idea I think is good. Everyone has been in a position before someone is bouncing ideas off of you, and they seem so absorbed by some egregious idea that you’d hesitate to share the same enthusiasm for. When the light-bulb goes off in my head, is the only way I can validate its soundness by seeing what other people think? If someone asks for my opinion on a project that’s been gnawing at them and it seems rather lackluster, am I just not seeing something that they do? I don’t expect to be able to solve these problems myself, but I do have a strategy for these scenarios.
One thing I’ve discovered early on in my life is that it’s too easy to talk all day about something abstract. Someone can say all they want about how great their app, book, game, or song will be, but it’s hard – or perhaps impossible – to critique something until you can personally experience it. People within my industry have tried to address it by pushing for processes with shorten the feedback loops on ideas. The Agile Manifesto is one publication which has spawned a plethora of variants which abide by this methodology. Although there are limitations to what type of validation your idea might get from others, at least it offers insights on how other people evaluate your idea.
So, what’s this sick app idea that I’ve come up with? Let me build it first and then I’ll talk more about it!