Friday, September 2, 2011

There are no original ideas

We were brainstorming today about the kids' middle school science projects. Since P has a microscope I suggested he do something that used it. I thought he could take samples throughout the school, e.g., water fountain, cafeteria, biology lab, and see in his microscopes what bacteria and other things they had. We all got talking about this idea a bit then N said P wouldn't do it. Why, I asked. Because it was not his idea N said. I told them that few ideas were entirely original. Most are based on existing ideas, then modified, and, most importantly, well executed. What matter was not whether P had had the original idea or whether I had suggested it. But what P would do with it: make it his own, refine it, execute it. I gave them the example of my first start-up, which was the first company that measured web traffic. The inspiration for the company came from someone else' suggestion (back in 1993) that the Internet needed the equivalent of supermarket scanners to track everything. I combined that, with some existing analytics tool to create a company that was original on its own. The same can be said for most of the "new" products and services that we are familiar: the iPhone, Google, FaceBook, etc.

I think the got it, although P then told me about his own original idea for a science project :-). I liked it even better than mine!

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