I was told once that if you’ve just had a brilliant original idea, there’s a pretty good chance that someone else has already thought of it and perhaps even acted on it.
Having spent a good part of the last fortnight toying with unique knowledge management concepts, I was devastated to find that not only have my “original” thoughts been acted upon by someone else they had been taken depths I’d not even considered.
My initial thoughts were to drop the project and reconsider my direction; but I chose another approach. I thought that if I investigate somebody else’s solution in more detail I may not only learn from their experiences but also see if there are opportunities I hadn’t considered. I guess you could call this Idea Reverse Engineering of sorts.
Fair enough, after only two hours of study it was already apparent that an idea which on the surface presented itself as identical was in fact quite different. Furthermore, I was able to understand that my original approach had some fundamental pitfalls – again, solutions I hadn’t considered.
This raises an interesting question, have we already thought of everything there is to think of – no I don’t think so. As our tools and environment changes so do our ways of approaching problem-solving. It’s foolish to think that you can solve a new type of problem using techniques you have used in the past.
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough – Albert Einstein
All this boils down to how well we understand the problem as well as all the solutions that have been tried in the past. The trick is to not only innovate our solutions but also how we approach their further refinement and re-engineering. So yes, if you don’t understand the problem well enough you aren’t in a position to create an innovative solution.
Thanks Albert – I now have a fresh direction in a previously doomed project.