Innovation and “Adjacent Ideas”

Most ideas sites are narrow by design. If you want to discuss computers, you go to IdeaStorm. If you want to discuss coffee, you go to My Starbucks Idea.

Good Ideas in contrast is broad in design. Any good idea is fair game.

One reason for the site’s breadth has to do with innovation. Breakthroughs typically happen not through flashes of inspiration, but by applying good ideas from elsewhere – often from adjacent fields – to problems at hand. This phenomenon is nicely articulated in Andrew Hargadon’s management primer “How Breakthroughs Happen“.

My hope is that some of the value of the site will come from users browsing fields different from their own, perhaps being inspired by interesting ideas, and bringing insights back to their own field.

Plans for Good Ideas

I work by day as a web strategy consultant, so I am subsumed by the world of business plans and tactics. So when it comes to the business strategy for Good Ideas, I have a confession:

I’m not really sure.

At this point I’m launching the site out of love for the topic. I do have a few nascent thoughts which I’d love to get feedback on:

  • I’m much more interested at this point in quality than quantity. I want the site to be interesting, smart and fun. It’s not so important if a lot of folks find the site at this stage. I think that one reason that some sites are successful, like Flickr or Wikipedia, is there was a lot of focus early on the challenge of building something of quality.
  • There is as of yet no revenue model for Good Ideas. There may never be – it may remain a labor of love. That said, I’m aware of the fact that a number of ideas sites generate value and revenue from competitions, others attract sponsorships and grants, and others have success with donation tie-ins. The important thing at this stage is to try to build something interesting.
  • If it does grow, I have some wacky ideas about complementing “GoodIdeas.org” with a more refined “Solutions.org”, and next an even more refined “Policy.org”. But that puts the cart before the horse (although I’m always happy to brainstorm wacky ideas if anyone is interested).

Anyway, thanks for any guidance you might provide the initiative in the comments below.

Why Good Ideas?

Hi: This is an early post from Jim — the person who launched Good Ideas.

There is a pretty simple reason why I started Good Ideas: because I love good ideas. I love to examine them, hold them to the light, and imagine their possibilities. Call me idiosyncratic, but I much rather collect good ideas than, say, stamps.

There are two more specific reasons as well:

  • The web ushers in unprecedented collaboration, including around “idea management”. A number of corporations have excelled in this field, including Dell, Starbucks, and Salesforce, which generate enormous value from their ideas communities. Many other topics – education, environment, health, and others – could benefit from similarly successful initiatives.
  • Ideas are evanescent: I see lots of great ideas everyday on blogs, web pages and Twitter. They typically, however, come today and are gone tomorrow, with no real system in place to capture, tag, rank, and distribute the best ideas. Even the very best “winning ideas” from large competitions tend to fall into oblivion.

So that’s why I started this thing. Would you like to help? There are several reasons why it may be worth your while:

  • Good Ideas is a place to learn – check out innovative ideas in your sector or others.
  • Good Ideas is a place to store any great ideas you have (like storing your photos on Flickr or videos on YouTube)
  • Good Ideas will shine light on the best ideas (and early ideas probably have an advantage in this)
  • Good Ideas, we hope, will let you meet others with similar interests.

Let me know if you’d like to help out!

About Good Ideas

Good Ideas is a web site which gathers, tags, ranks and distributes good ideas. Any good ideas can be included, although original contributors have focused on education, environment, global development, health, and other issues of importance. Your collaboration is warmly encouraged: feel free to rank ideas, comment, or post new ideas — and tell your professional colleagues about Good Ideas.

The site was started by Jim Cashel, who is Chairman of Forum One, a DC-based web strategy and development group. A bit more detail about the site is offered in the subsequent “Why Good Ideas?” post.

Return to Good Ideas.