Why I work to prototype ideas – C2B
The first incarnation of thoughtstorm.com was for a business that, in modern terms, facilitated the crowdsourcing of advertising ideas for companies and ad agencies looking for fresh sources. The VC client with whom I spoke at the time, seeking feedback and funding, said that the idea would not really do well because of the inherent risk for buyers: not the IP risk but the knowledge that a baby commercial was the idea of a child molester, or something similarly awful from a PR perspective. I took his advice and continue to respect his opinion and knowledge; the only reason I won’t link to him now is to avoid appearing ungrateful for his honest opinion or casting aspersions on his advice with the benefit of hindsight; I certainly didn’t take the alternative route and followed his advice of my own accord.
Seeing these sorts of articles, about crowdsourcing in general and advertising in particular, has nevertheless always been a bit of a sore spot for me. I’ve always thought that I’ve had a succession of good, even very good ideas, and I’ve apparently done poorly at getting them executed, at creating something substantial that exists in the world.
So this self-awareness is part of the genesis of the “orphan ideas” tag on this site and even on the “official” ThoughtStorm blog. My goals are to:
- Release the old ideas from my brain and to-do lists so they’re not cluttering up my thinking and draining my energy, particularly if I’m not actually likely to do anything about them now. GTD advocated moving these to “Someday.” I’m accepting that “Someday” is closer to “Never” and doing something, however small, in taking that step.
- Gain psychological credit for having ideas before other people; not really worth much, but it’s a way to help myself accept #1 and points me to #3.
- Encourage me to pursue ideas in some tangible format, whether rapid prototyping of a social networking website or actual writing related to a book idea (and then a follow-up with a proposal). Executing is all that really counts; ideas really are a dime a dozen, but people who can turn an idea into something, anything, even an ugly but functional website, are rare.
- Recognize value that I’m just not that interested in pursuing and so revealing it for someone else to work with or build on. It’s like seeing a bag of returnable cans in the garbage; I’m not really likely to take it out, but I’ll gladly tell someone who’s collecting cans about it. What’s the harm to me of benefiting society in that tiny way? What have I lost? Nothing, and if you think about the gains from #1, 2, and 3, I’m actually better off.
So the history of ThoughtStorm is now revealed. I’ll try to update that old c2b page into a post so it’s legible and more accessible.