Daniel Lemire's blog

, 6 min read

Good ideas are overrated

7 thoughts on “Good ideas are overrated”

  1. This post resonates with me, and I’d like to expand the idea: good ideas follow a pipeline from problem to solution, and not everyone is good to contribute at any part of this pipeline.

    I am now CTO (I love this smurf name) of a start-up making a computer security product and service. Four years ago, I was a struggling post-doc in medical imaging. How did I get from struggling to arguably successful? I’m *not* an infosec expert out there by a long shot. However, I have a few of these expertsas colleagues. My abilities are to write simple software, and to easily turn a prototype into good, simple production software. So, the current achievements of the company I work for start from the brilliant prototypes of my colleagues, which I then nip and tuck and spit-shine. These prototypes would make poor products, and I’ve had trouble coming up with really good ideas, but I can execute and refine very well.

    We hold up the example of people who seemed able to do push through at every part of this pipeline. Such great folk do exist, but many celebrated individual achievements actually stem from a (hidden) team’s work. People should learn to recognize the frontiers of their “efficiency zone” and have the humility to surround themselves with people that complete them. Within that zone, motivation very rarely lacks. In addition, when you get some success within that zone, it becomes easier to expand it.

  2. trylks says:

    Very nice post. I would only change the last word, from “bored” to “frustrated”.

    It’s hard to find funding, without funding it’s hard to find time. Even with funding, nobody guarantees success, but in the eventual case of success, most likely the funders will be the ones reaping the fruit of your time and effort (and luck).

    All that considering individual work, as if one individual alone could do something (good post from #1 wrt this).

    I don’t think this is boredom, or even frustration. It feels like despair to me at this moment.

    The only hope I see are projects like kickstarter, but that only works for a few types of ideas.

  3. Sam says:

    As Nike says ” just do it “.

  4. To differ from a prior comment, “bored” works for me.

    There is a word in English “fortune” that carries exactly the right freight, or at least an older definition.

    Most of what we hear is of those who got lucky. Their tale gets often retold. The guy with a good idea but lesser luck, not so much.

    Good ideas are not so hard. The chance to apply, less likely.

  5. John Cook says:

    “Inspiration usually comes during work, rather than before it.” — Madeleine L’Engle

  6. I agree with Matt, and not with you.

    As you note, it’s really, really easy to find questions whose answer would be valuable and we don’t know the answer to. The trouble is that almost all of these problems are not important.

  7. Chankey Pathak says:

    Very well put, now I know what to do with the ideas I have in mind. Thank you!