5.2. There are bad ideas

I do not know where the phrase "there are no bad ideas" came from, but I'm certain it's wrong. I've seen the phrase used in both television commercials and in brainstorming meetings (and quite possibly in television commercials about brainstorming meetings). This cute little phrase is typically used in an attempt to help prevent people from filtering out ideas too early in the creative process—a noble goal, to be sure. But when applied to almost any other situation involving problem solving or creative thinking, the sentence "there are no bad ideas" could not be more frustratingly false. I have incontrovertible evidence that there are an infinite number of awful, horrible, useless, comically stupid, and embarrassingly bad ideas. If you pay attention to the world around you, it's pretty clear that people are coming up with new ones all the time.

Even with a top-notch set of requirements, most of the possible designs that exist or could be created will not solve the problems or satisfy the goals (see Figure 5-3). In fact, the space of good solutions for a problem is much smaller than the space of nonsolutions. Basic logic bears this out: if I ask you to climb Mount Everest, there are probably a handful of different routes that safely lead to the top. But if I ask you not to climb Mount Everest, you have an infinite number of ways to succeed (e.g., picking your nose, reading Dickens, climbing other mountains, climbing other mountains while picking your nose ...

Get The Art of Project Management now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.