Do Ideas Matter?
Chris Dixon writes today of a metaphor that helps us get beyond the untruth that ideas do not matter in startup innovation.
Ideas are more than the Eureka moment — they are working out that initial Eureka moment through the idea maze:
In other words: a good idea means a bird’s eye view of the idea maze, understanding all the
permutations of the idea and the branching of the decision tree, gaming things out to the end
of each scenario. Anyone can point out the entrance to the maze, but few can think through
all the branches. If you can verbally and then graphically diagram a complex decision tree
with many alternatives, explaining why your particular plan to navigate the maze is superior
to the ten past companies that fell into pits and twenty current competitors lost in the maze,
you’ll have gone a long way towards proving that you actually have a good idea that others
did not and do not have. This is where the historical perspective and market research is key;
a strong new plan for navigating the idea maze usually requires an obsession with the market,
a unique insight from deep thought that others did not see, a hidden door.
That is from the work of Balaji Srinivasan. Ideas are process rather than point in time. Chris’s post talks about using analogy, history, academic thought, and direct experience to work one through the idea maze. Complement this process by wrestling with Elon Musk’s notion that identifying too closely with history, analogy, and current thinking kills creative thought.