Chapter 5. Where ideas come from

The less-than-surprising truth about the origins of ideas is that they come from people. No idea in the history of mankind has ever come from a pile of large rocks, a warm mound of dirt, or a bundle of sharp, pointy sticks. Nor have ideas come from self-help books, creativity seminars, or brainstorming sessions. While ideas might be presented or consumed through these things, it’s the people who create them that are the source. It follows then that on projects, it’s individuals—and not processes, methodologies, or committees—who come up with ideas and find ways to use them.

This means there is nothing magical about ideas. We are all capable of coming up with them (although some of us are better than others). Never forget that it’s the fundamental nature of humans and other creatures to use their creative powers to solve problems they encounter in the world. Despite how little education we might get in our modern lives for how to apply these skills, they are there. Our species is still around primarily because we find ways to deal with challenges, and invent tools and strategies to help us overcome them. (Although it is fair to ask whether our ability to invent things, as currently applied in the 21st century, causes more problems than our inventions solve.)

Regarding projects, the ability to find good ideas is important from the first day to the last. Good ideas are needed to make early planning decisions, develop designs, write quality ...

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