Always disregard the first idea

Kaio Freitas, 28 April 2018

I know, that “eureka” feeling is just an outstanding moment! When that happens, the idea is bull’s-eye every time, it doesn’t matter the what, the how, nor the why. Period.

Having ideas has been my job over the last 10 years. From being a developer to working on advertising and now being committed to innovation. I’ve already had tons of bad ideas, some “ok” and others quite good, but if there is one thing that I conclude, after all this time, is that 99% of my first ideas were not as good as I thought they would be. But this is not the worst thing, actually.

Believe me, your first idea will always make you go blind. This morning I found a very interesting study. It tested several chess players as they played. In one of the tests, the researchers monitored the level of brain activity and the focus of vision (where they looked at).

Their findings are just mesmerizing!!!

Before each move, the players’ brain levels skyrocketed, pointing to higher chances of pulling a creative, unexpected, out of the box move. However, even with all this brain activity, the players’ vision was always focused in the areas of the chessboard where the most obvious moves could be found. It is as if the brain wanted to avoid fatigue, you know? And it doesn't stop there.

From that moment onwards, the player needed a greater effort to think about other moves. His mind was “stuck”. His first idea (the most obvious) literally got him blind to better plays.

From a scientific standpoint, the presence of obvious solutions reduces our ability to find the best ideas to actually solve our problems. Having this in mind, I tried to think of some things that I have learned over time not to fall into the first idea’s trap.

1  —  Less is NOT more

Don't believe when people say that ideas are born of a creative whirlwind. Don’t try to grasp the million-dollar idea. Have a million ideas instead. Many friends praise me for the name of SempreQuis. They say it’s simple, creative and straight to the point. What they don't know is that SempreQuis was one of the 133 names that I wrote down on my notebook. Hah.

2  — Don’t work alone

When you are part of a group, the chances of getting blinded by their first idea decrease substantially. Also, working with people from different backgrounds, experiences and knowledge can help you to come up with much deeper and more creative ideas.

3  — Test your ideas

Ideas on paper are just ideas. They aren’t worth anything. An idea is just a hypothesis, something that you believe it can fix a problem. So, before you fall in love with your own ideas, go out and test them. As Mike Tyson used to say, “everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face".

What about you, what do you do to generate less obvious ideas?

Leave your comment right here or find me on Twitter ;P